General Musing

blaze your trail

Just Finished Reading “The Snake”

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The Snake is the first book I have read by John Godey, it was recommended to me by @chielie after watching the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123. I misplaced the book, so was forced to read some other books.

The book is great, it follows a black mamba accidentally released into the New York’s Central Park towards the end of the 1970s, due to a failed mugging, and follows the snake’s life in the park and the ensuing panic turning euphoric.

“The snake in the park became a jewel in the crown of the city’s obsession with its own eccentricity. The public reasserted prideful conviction that it inhabited the most put-upon city in the whole world. When bigger and better and more unendurable disasters were contrived, they were visited justly upon the city that matched them in stature; which was to say, the city that was superlatively dirty, declining, expensive, crime-ridden, unmanageable, and glamorously unlivable beyond any other city in the world.”

Godey’s novel is as much a condemnation of the governance of the city that allowed ghettoization of the city above 97th street. Is it any wonder that the snake lives in the park so close to Harlem, where many the inhabitants are as disaffected as the snake. And city officials who are deaf to the the other unheard in the city, people who can make a difference.

Godey often borders on the anthropomorphic, yet never seems to cross the line, conveying the thoughts of the snake as true to the animalistic as is possible without resorting to simplicity. “[T]he narrative [is framed] within the imagined limitations of animal consciousness.”[1] It is the characters in the book, with the exception of the herpetologist, which attribute human characteristics and religious values to the snake.

The glamorously unliveability of the city is reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis‘s novel, American Psycho, another condemnation more than 10 prosperous years later. The intervening years have done little to repair the damage, and have uncovered the ineffectiveness of trying to manage the unmanageable.

A great read.

  1. Bestsellers: popular fiction of the 1970s by John Sutherland in his discussion of Jaws.

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Posted in books

Tagged with , , , ,

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