March 28, 2013
Even at liberal NPR, this book reviewer wonders whether our culture’s descent into nihilism and narcissism hasn’t gone too far. The review is entitled “The Apathy In ‘A Thousand Pardons’ Is Hard To Forgive”:
Given that Dee is such a precise, dry and cynical writer — and given the class resentments that his plots stoke — I wonder, not for the first time, why I don’t like his books more. Maybe the answer lies in his distinctive atmosphere: Most of Dee’s key characters are so cool, so jaded, so “whatever” — it’s like they overmedicate.
At the end of this novel, Helen, the one character here with blood coursing through her veins, is told by her snotty daughter that she basically cares too much about everybody else. Is that the takeaway here? I’m really going to sound like a Victorian moralist, but when I read a novel where characters lose their jobs and their houses, where families fall apart, I want it all to mean something, I even might want a lesson or two. A Thousand Pardons is a fine novel technically, but, ultimately, “whatever,” Dee’s ennui is contagious.