Pierre; or, The Ambiguities Review – by A.H.
This book was my first introduction to Melville and probably the last time I will encounter him. Melville seems that he has some things to figure out as a writer. I really enjoy books that build with a good exposition, but this book just builds, and builds, and builds, then rips you to shreds all at once at the end. After reading countless pages of scenic descriptions and random tangents, you think that all your work will be rewarded at the end. Nope. Everyone dies, the end. To say I was a little disappointed was an understatement. After all, Melville did write Moby Dick, so I kept telling myself “just wait, just wait, it will get better.” Nope. It just comes to an abrupt stop.
I did enjoy how Melville crafted intriguing relationships that really make you puzzled and think. I also enjoyed the satire and criticism he used through Pierre. Melville has a unique writing style that may not flow as well as most novels, but you are able to appreciate his humor. In reading why Melville wrote this book, many say that it was a response to bad reviews to one of his other works. I respect Melville for trying to do something that other writers haven’t through such ambiguities; I just don’t think it worked out.
I’m not trying to say Melville is a bad writer, but this troubled piece had me wondering what the purpose of the book was the whole time I read it. I just think it is simply not a good book. I appreciate the detail that Melville uses and how meticulous his writing style is – it just bored me to death honestly. I was glad that there was finally action at the end. However, after grueling through pages and pages to get to a very rushed ending, I was very disappointed. I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and the parallels between Melville and Pierre as well as the satire he employed. The addition of 150 extra pages was most likely not necessary and I probably would have liked the original version more. I feel that this book is an accurate representation of Melville: troubled, confused, and not to be too harsh, but a failure.
Final rating: 2/5
Recommend to a friend: Not unless they are an English major.