Lydia Millet’s Ghost Lights —

I picked up Lydia Millet’s Ghost Lights at a time when my brainpan needed serious distraction from stewing in its own juices.  “Pulitzer finalist” on the book jacket caught my eye and I wondered what sort of contemporary work of fiction would fit that bill.  Hence I decided to give the tome a chance even though the first pages concerning a three-legged dog did nothing to capture my interest.  Now perhaps I’m missing something here as this is touted as the second book of a trilogy. Hmm. Okay well I am going to continue missing that  special something that comes from the second book in a trilogy of which I have not read the first installment. I’m going to continue the ‘missing’ because I’ve no intentions of reading the first part of the trilogy,  How the Dead Dream, in order to get up to speed on whatever I’m missing. Nor do I have any plans to read part three. Why not? It’s not because MIllet can’t write–she can. The prose flows easily across the pages requiring no effort from the reader at all.  I’m not going to read any further backward or forward because there are more interesting books to read and for the following reasons directly related to Ghost Lights:

I do not care about middle-aged men who work for the Internal Revenue Service.

I do not care about middle-aged men who are upset to learn that their wives are being sexually active with males other than themselves.

I do not care about a wife having sex with a younger man than her husband.

I do not care about a middle-aged man who learns his crippled daughter is making a living doing phone sex.

I do not care that a crippled woman has found that phone sex is the most lucrative way to support herself.

I do not care about a middle-aged Tax Man who goes off to find a man he doesn’t even like just to get away from his issues.

I do not care about Tax Man going agog over a beautiful German woman and her husband and two boys.

I do not care about Tax Man having his dream of ‘sex on the beach’ with beautiful German woman come true.

I do not care about Tax Man having no clue what mess he’s walked into by his weak efforts to find the missing T-man.

I do not care about ignorant man befuddled by German woman’s ignorance of the issues of the Indigenous Guatemalan population.

I do not care about any of these characters because Millet provides absolutely no reason why I should care about them. Beautiful breasts of German women do not engage my interest. The three-legged dog seems to have been some sort of red herring. The crippled daughter operates as a sort of sympathy plea. The adulterous wife is so much shallow contemporary American woman that the character construction isn’t worth the effort to sneer at her.  The Tax Man — is–well he’s the Tax Man nursing a Tin Man’s heart of sorts.  Did I miss something of vital importance between the hardback covers of Ghost Lights? Did I? If so and you know what it is please drop a line and tell me. I’d really like to know. –Oh and NO the concluding pages of the book will not suffice. I’m NOT buying that at all. Btw, if any of this book was supposed to be funny–I didn’t laugh. There are many types of humor–but I don’t recall stumbling over any form here. Perhaps I need to update my humor catalog?

Ghost Lights– link to excerpt  http://www.lydiamillet.net/ghost_lights.html

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6 Comments

  1. Yousei Hime said,

    May 21, 2012 at 1:41 am

    I have never had such fun reading a review in all my life. I almost want to glance at the book just to nod along with you.

  2. May 21, 2012 at 7:41 am

    hmm dear friend, why bother reading through the whole… ahem… 🙂

    In any case, your ‘review’ is highly amusing and entertaining – it is exactly what I felt when, many years back, I read something or other by Saul Bellow [yeah, I know, the ‘great writer’] but that’s exactly how I felt, case after case… 😉

    • May 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Well why did you keep reading Bellow’s books? Hmm? I kept reading because it was a breeze AND I was hoping to discover whatever it was that had brought Millet’s work to award nomination status. I did not. Unless it was the laying bare of contemporary American shallow ignorance regarding the rest of the world. Hmm.
      Thanks for being amused.

      • May 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm

        fact is… I did not finish… my thesis director told me once we can detect the worth of a book in the first ten pages… no need for punishing ourselves 🙂
        Still, I was not criticizing you, by no means! How could I have read such a delightful inside-review otherwise? 🙂

      • May 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm

        LOL, mariana, no problems! No offence taken at all! Cheers. I agree, we can detect much about a book in its opening pages….


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