display | more...

Novel by Samuel R. Delany, written 1975. One of the best and most overlooked books of the 20th century. Dhalgren takes place in Bellona, a large city in an unspecified state in Middle America which has been almost entirely abandoned because of a, or possibly a series of, mysterious natural disasters which still cover the entire city in a haze of smoke, and is now populated almost entirely by squatters.

Dhalgren is highly non-traditional and elliptical in structure, and the main character is known only as the kid, in various spellings and states of capitalization. The book is, among many other things, a meditation on the cultural revolution of the 1960s and the implications of the new freedom it had brought about, the youth culture and counter-culture in general, the permutations of human sexuality, and the idea of artistic inspiration.

The writing style is hard to describe, as it can vary wildly throughout the novel from stream-of-consciousness to first copy of the main character's journal with notes from an editor in the margin. Those looking for an easily comprehensible narrative arc will be sorely disappointed; the first few times I picked up the book, I put it down again totally perplexed after twenty pages or so. I can only say that persistence will pay off. Even if the first few chapters leave you totally lost, it'll all start coming together into some kind of sense once you're far enough in.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.