Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, November 30, 2009

"The Club Dumas" by Arturo Perez-Reverte

I first heard of The Club Dumas Arturo Perez-Reverte (1993-translated from Spanish by Sonia Soto-362 pages) when I read all the blurbs the publisher had included in the pages before the title in Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.   The quote from The Washington Post says that if you liked Club Dumas then you will like Shadow in the Wind.   After reading this I did a search on The Club Dumas.   It is about the adventures of a book finder who seeks out books for wealthy collectors.   (Sort of like the father in The Thirteenth Tale that I recently read.)   I never made any effort to find a copy of The Club Dumas, it did sound sort of interesting in that the characters were all supposed to be great readers, as I had other reading priorities.

Last week I was browsing in a local book store looking for Japanese novels and a new to me Atwood and I saw The Club Dumas and I bought it.
There is a genre of literature called "chick lit".   I do not use this term normally as I do not like the expression.   The Club Dumas   then sort of falls in the category of bookish boy's lit.   The characters in the novel are all very into the works of Alexandre Dumas, mainly The Three Musketeers.   There are several female characters in the book.   They all seem to find a man who can recite the plot of The Three Musketeers completely impossible to resist and have nearly to be restrained from removing their clothes at the sight of a musty old French novel no one out side of The Sorbonne would ever have heard about.   One of the women is a kind of Nordic looking Anna Nicole Smith widow whose wealthy much older husband hung himself under mysterious circumstances.   The book dealer came to visit her as her husband had a very valuable book collection as we are told book collections are normally sold very soon after the collector dies.   It turns out the widow is very into old books herself.   In the mind of the book dealer, the widow is having problems controlling herself  in his presence.   We are given references also to a lot of occult knowledge, burning candles in the middle of pentagrams type stuff.   Of course this sort of occult knowledge is central to the bookish boy's genre and plays right into his  fantasy world.    The book dealer later will establish a relationship with a beautiful eighteen year old woman who is also dazzled by his erudition and knowledge of occult lore.

I know all this makes The Club Dumas  seem a bit silly and it is in fact more than a bit silly.    Having conceded this it is also kind of fun.  (Here I am acknowledging that at 12 or so I was a very bookish boy who thought The Count of Monte Cristo was the height of culture).   I think if you pushed this book and analyzed it closely it might well fall apart.   The occult information conveyed is pretty shallow and could be learned by watching some vampire type TV shows. The female characters are pure bookish boy fantasy stereotypes.    There are a lot of comments about books and the  reading life of the characters,  some of which are interesting.  We also learn somethings about old books as regards their physical properties.   The book is ok  escapist reading for bookish boys and those who used to be a bookish boy.   I think if I were in an airport and had forgotten to bring a book with me and saw another book by Perez-Reverte in the newsstand and could not find anything else to buy I would buy another of his books.   The ratings on go from those who thought it was pretty much completely silly to those who felt it was a really interesting and intelligent look into a world most of us know little about.   The plot action does have a lot of twists and turns.   I did not find any of the characters interesting.   I liked Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game much more than The Club Dumas  but I was able to finish it.   I am glad I satisfied my curosity in reading this book  but I do not see it being liked by a lot of readers of my blog.  

Mel u


Unknown said...

Mel -
I see that you only gave it two stars and the other friends that I have on Goodreads rated it poorly as well. So I will skip this one. Even though your description is intriguing.

JoAnn said...

Your description is intriguing, but I'll skip this and read Shadow of the Wind (which has been on my shelf for a couple of years) instead.

Mark David said...

Excellent descriptions Mel. I can see from your review why you'd call it "boy's lit". I get why you might find it silly (the same reasons some women would find chick lit silly, apparently). Well yes I would agree that this isn't something I'd be readily interested in, but it's good that you experimented with it and gave us your honest thoughts. Thanks! :)

Mel u said...

Shellie-Thanks as always for your comments-are you a user of google wave yet?

Joann-Shadow of the Wind is a much better book-

Mark David-it is good to try new type books once and a while-If I had not done that I would have never discovered a whole bunch of writers I really like

Unknown said...

Mel u -
I am not familiar with google wave. What is it?

Mel u said...

Shiela-I just sent you an invitation to become a beta user of Google Wave along with an explanation of it-it is just started but lots of book bloggers are really getting into it-

Unknown said...

Mel -
I got your note with the description but have not gotten the invite yet.
I will let you know when I get it figured out or if I don't get the invite.

Anonymous said...

I need to amend my prior comment, because I made an error in my haste to write. I wrote "Varo Borja," when I meant to write "Boris Balkan." Balkan tells the story within the story and is the key to the meaning of the novel, while Borja is an antagonist. My apologies.