I made pasta today. Or rather, I cooked some rigate and poured pesto over them:
And here’s another book that I have recently finished “reading” (another audiobook): Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. Long story short: it was ridiculously bad.
“Atlas Shrugged” is about a dystopian future where the world is being ruined by Socialism. Or so you might think, when in fact it’s a 1100+ page long romance novel of the cheesiest kind. Yes, you read that right. A romance novel. One thousand one hundred pages. The cheesiest kind.
But let’s take it from the top.
Firstly, there is no character development. Hell, there are hardly any characters at all! The good guys are good (mostly businessmen who bless the world with their entrepreneurial prowess) and the bad guys are bad (anyone with egalitarian tendencies). Ever watched the tornado movie “Twister” where the good guys wear white and drive white cars, while the bad guys wear black and drive black cars? That’s kind of how “Atlas Shrugged” works. And the good guys are all just SO HANDSOME!
So how about the plot? Well. Okay. The story is about Dagny Taggart, a female railroad executive who wants to keep her line operating while the state keeps sabotaging her. And not only the state, but also a group of businessmen (good guys) who have decided to “go on strike” by refusing to provide society with their services. They also sabotage her, and in the end she meets them and they all come together while the Socialist dystopia around them goes up in flames. A plot worthy of 1100 pages? Maybe for Paul Ryan.
The book is mainly composed of dialogue. But the weird thing about this, too, is that the dialogue is actually hardly any real dialogue at all. For in reality, anything masquerading as “dialogue” in Ayn Rand’s work is really just a set of monologues delivered by papier-maché figures: handsome good guy delivers monologue about the virtue of egoism, slimy bad guy answers with monologue about the ideology of egalitarianism. And so on.
“Atlas Shrugged” is a book for dull minds.
I mean, I get the basic premise, and I think it could have been a nice little allegory along the lines of “Animal Farm”, which is a mere 100+ pages long and hits you with biting humour while driving one single point home: most self-proclaimed Socialist “liberators” will most likely end up taking the places of the former rulers.
But apparently Ayn Rand didn’t want to write anything allegorical (hence the length of the book), or anything in the tradition of Literary Realism (hence the cardboard characters), or even an action novel (hence the almost total absence of a plot). What Ayn Rand claimed is that she wanted the novel as a vessel for her philosophy. Which would explain the endless monologues.
The thing is I don’t buy even that. I think that “Atlas Shrugged” is, at its essence, just a shell for a romance novel.
Remember our protagonist Dagny Taggart, the female railroad executive? Well, in the first part of the book she has awesome sex with an Argentinian super hunk, a genius billionaire named Francisco D’Anconia who slaps her in the face, which she likes. Then, in the second part, she has awesome sex with an American inventor-slash-genius businessman named Hank Rearden, who buys her jewellery and commands her to put it on and remain otherwise naked, which she likes. But then in the final part she has awesome sex with an almost mythical figure called John Galt, a man who has been literally stalking her for ten years, which she loves.
So the book basically goes like this:
“Oh, Francisco!” whispered Dagny as Francisco held her safely in his strong arms.
MONOLOGUE, MONOLOGUE, MONOLOGUE.
“Oh, Hank!” said Dagny, feeling safe in Hank’s strong arms.
LONG-ASS FUCKING MONOLOGUE DELIVERED BY THE MAN JOHN GALT HIMSELF.
Society falls apart.
“Oh, John!” cried Dagny, as John picked her up with his strong arms. She had never felt so safe.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about people saying this book “changed their lives”, and to be honest, I think those people are full of shit. Sure, they might like the book’s premise (Socialism is bad).
But they’ve simply never read it.