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A young man arrives in the anarchic city of Bellona, in a near future USA. This world has two moons but could otherwise be our own. The man, known ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of Dhalgren

Overall customer rating: 5.000

Surrealistic masterpiece

by DraconianVirtue on Apr 5, 2007

Dhalgren is as much a work of art as it is a novel. If you're looking for a book with a coherent, easy to follow plot, which requires no concrete-thought and little effort - then this book is not what you're looking for. Centrally, Dhalgren is focused on a post-apocalyptic city and a memory-challenged, half-psychotic, losing the battle with sanity and reality drifter who loses a complete handle on normal time, and who can't remember his name or his past. The drifter, dubbed "the Kid", becomes a central figure in this city of nearly 3000 eclectic individuals. The city, Bellona, is one of the largest remaining cities in the US (and assuredly the most surreal). A young girl, a street "gang", a notebook, and a fallen city filled with eccentrics all combine to become the world for the Kid. In the Kid's world, he experiences one day while others may experience three. Where he experiences one night of sleep, three full days have elapsed. This is a world that takes the races and pushes them together, that takes sex and discusses it as graphically and honestly as any novel I've read. This is a book that takes society and strips it stark naked and allows you to watch as it continues to exist. In this world, the family which holds onto the past, lives in an apartment and tries to hold the family unit together are depicted as the non-sane. Those that sleep in the park, wander the city, have different sexual partners and act eccentrically regularly are the sane inhabitants. That said - Dhalgren is not the plot, but the adventure. You have to be in the mood for stream-of-consciousness thought from the main character (possibly a mirror of the author himself?), disjointed plot, and be okay with the fact that not everything is going to be understood the first read through. I've reread Dhalgren twice since my original reading and find new things every time. I've had different thoughts on each reading. Though, as a constant through all my readings, my emotions follow the book like a roller coaster. Throughout the reading I have periods of depression, restlessness, thoughtfulness, happiness and other emotions evoked through the story. I only find this in the very best of books. This is a book that must be read to be understood, and re-read to be fully valued. It should be approached as a work of art or not at all. Take a chance on this book! If you don't like the book by page 100 then you won't like the book, period. But, if by page 100 you are as enthralled as I was, strap yourself in - you're in for a treat.

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