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Old 8th Dec 2004, 8:42   #11
m.
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I've read it, but I'm busy like hell. Trying to catch up at work, find myself a cheap habitable flat and fight off depression related to the approaching 30th birthday....

BTW

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Diceman
Life is islands of ecstasy in an ocean of ennui, and after the age of thirty land is seldom seen.
Uplifting...
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Old 8th Dec 2004, 10:58   #12
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Was this book meant to be a satire on the narrator's complete up-his-ass egoism and selfishness? Are we meant to come away feeling he was a big stupid and manipulative baby? Are we meant to laugh? Or weep?

My copy blurb spouts Anthony Burgess –
Quote:
touching, ingenious and beautifully comic
– but none of it raised even a smile in me, not even the narrator’s behaviour in National Habit-Breaking Month. The whole exercise didn’t raise much in the way of coherent philosophy either – nothing was ever followed through: if there is no moral code or structure, no reliability or pattern of behaviour in anyone, and no responsibility or consequences to actions, of course society would collapse and Luke Rhinehart would have to stop dicing then in order to feed himself. No-one seemed to react with any real horror or surprise at the things he did – even the police backed down at his false lies. It all seemed to be contrived towards a welter of self-gratification. Me, I would have confiscated his dice.

I found myself thinking – if he believes life is better being so random and meaningless, why doesn’t he insert death as a regular option? Why doesn’t he flip a coin if he wants truly random options? Why doesn’t he explore the hurt and rejection he feels when he comes back to Lil and work out whether it is important? If his emotions of happiness and ennui are so crucial to his decision-making, how can he justify the emotions of pain upon leaving his children “upon the die”? Relatednesss is an integral part of the natural order.

The life of living by the die seems to be an inherently narcissistic and conceited one – the narrator is not controlled by the die, not living randomly, since he selects the options. The idea of losing the ‘ego’ by living randomly seems farcical when it is his ego which sets up the choices for him. He learns nothing about himself, about others, and nothing really about the nature of existing. The non-random-ness of the die (and its basically tedious sex-related choices) is never really addressed or challenged by anyone in the book.

The only thing that keeps coming out of his die-throws and actions is that other people don’t matter, that the whole cause-and-effect of a murderous die-throw is not his fault, and attributable only to the die – so that raped children and murdered families’ lives are worthless. Is it a meaningful book that proposes the dissolution of even the notion of value? I think he cheats the die all along – yes, giving it nasty dangerous options that abuse other people, but mostly going along with his own wishes and desires. This grand destruction of self takes place in a repetitive misogynist stream of self-indulgence. There is nothing to like or entertain about the man.

Quote:
Life is islands of ecstasy in an ocean of ennui, and after the age of thirty land is seldom seen.
Absolute rubbish! He should get over it and stop being a self-pitying, attention-seeking phoney - mid-life crises shouldn’t result in casually raping folk and absolving oneself of any blame in one’s actions.

All of which leads me to believe that this is written as a satirical hit on such stupid cults (all that biblical-Dice paraphrasing was so sixth-former-y) and we are meant to despise him as much as I did. A great book to hate – I might even put it on my worst read book of 2004 list.
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Old 8th Dec 2004, 11:20   #13
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Good stuff Col - is anyone going to defend the book?
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Old 8th Dec 2004, 11:47   #14
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Yes!

But true, I like your post, Col. :D
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Old 15th Dec 2004, 7:49   #15
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Whilst there's still half a month left to cast plaudits/darts of venom at this book, is there a choice for the next book - possibly for February reviewing if no-one's got much time to be reading over the next couple of weeks?
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Old 15th Dec 2004, 7:58   #16
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I mean to write (a kind of) defence, just very busy - at the moment. Re the next book choice, maybe it's time to introduce the democratic thing - New Year and all that...?
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Old 16th Dec 2004, 10:59   #17
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Right then. The blurb on the back of my copy says:

Entertaining, humorous, scary, shocking, subversive...

Huh. Try dull. Try chronically unfunny. Try so far up its own arse it may as well just keep digging. I've not done a biog search for Mr Rhinehart, but unless I discover that he was 17 when he wrote this, and wrote it for the amusement of his 17 year old mates, I shall only end up hating it more. The prose wants (and is indeed convinced of) its own stylish energy, but is in fact turgid and vapid. The ideas are the sort of pointless tossed about tosh you get on many a teen website, and the sheer self-reverance drizzles like too-sweet honey over the page.

If I hadn't borrowed it off amarie I'd have chucked it in the bin.
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Old 16th Dec 2004, 12:49   #18
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Glad I didn't bother now... my friend (of some 15 years ago, I might add) was obviously hopelessly astray.
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Old 29th Dec 2004, 7:49   #19
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Honestly, I thought it was interesting. I've been aware that there is a lot of awfulness in the book, and I've been carefully avoiding the word "like" – because I didn't like it. Actually, I was entertained and amused at first (yeah, I heard you, amner) but soon grew tired and rather saddened. Overall, I thought it was quite disturbing (not dull).

The main strength of the book is obviously its basic idea. Although I agree with Col that the Dice Man's philosophy wouldn't stand up to even very rudimentary, common sense criticism, it doesn't mean that showing someone posessed by such an idea is nonsensical... For me, it was an experiment in thought slightly reminiscent of The Picture of Dorian Gray (yes, never going near Wilde's wit and style, but that's not my point now) - there we have someone avoiding the consequences of age and immoral life, here someone resigning of his own accord from his free will. I could word it differently, not using religious terms, but firstly you know what I mean, secondly the book is so heavy on religious symbolism that it quite fits. In case of both books we witness complete decline of humanity in a human being, similar, though coming from the opposite extremes - Dorian, sacrificing everything to please his ego, Luke, sacrificing everything to deny his ego... And the people around them - so used to judging by appearances that even when they see something truly evil they can't believe it and try to excuse it... I quite sympathised with Luke at the beginning of the book - a bit of a wailing asshole, true, but so what? I quite liked his cynical statements, really - Life is islands of ecstasy… Okay, I know. But the same words sound very different spoken by different people (think Henry Wotton vs Dorian, for example), and quite soon nothing that Luke could say was really amusing.

I don't like "edifying" books that try to push values down on people, too often it's just false and saccharine. Sometimes I'm much more convinced when I'm shown some values through their absence, like in this book. I am not saying that this was the author's purpose: I have no idea. Perhaps only the internal logic of the book forced him to show what a miserable loser Luke was in the end (grinning idiotically and assuring everybody how satisfying his life was), while he (I mean the author) was convinced that what he wrote was the affirmation of nihilism or something.

But... Once again Wilde: There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all. I know that I don't need to convince anybody here to the first part, no one’s saying that the book is "immoral". But is this book well written or badly written? I don't know. It's written in the style perfectly fitting for the narrator/protagonist, which means random, and, at least from time to time, well, awful. Does it help that it is intentionally awful?

Quote:
‘The style is the man,’ once said Richard Nixon and devoted his life to boring his readers.
What to do if there is no single man? No single style? Should the style vary as the man writing the autobiography varies, or as the past man he writes about varied? Literary critics would insist that the style of a chapter must cortespond to the man whose life is being dramatized: a quite rational injunction, one that ought therefore be repeatedly disobeyed. The comic life portrayed as high tragedy, everyday events being described by a scientist. So. Let us have no more quibbles about style. If style and subject matter happen to congeal in any of these chapters it is a lucky accident, not, we may hope, soon to be repeated.
A cunning chaos: that is what is my autobiography shall be.
You see, it’s not only Rhinehart the narrator/character trying to avoid responsibility for his life, but Rhinehart the author trying to avoid the responsibility for the book... Which I thought was clever in the circumstances, but irritating nonetheless... You know, I am inclined to think that this book is good, but in a way that an emetic is sometimes good, a savoury piece it ain't... It made me think about many things, which can't be bad, but all this unpleasantness...
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Old 9th Jan 2008, 16:20   #20
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Default Re: Book 15: THE DICE MAN by LUKE RHINEHART

This is probably just a shameless attempt to get people talking about the book I'm reading, and thereby not have to talk about books where I know nothing but anyway.

I'm only 150 pages in. In my bored state I liked the idea of chance of doing some work, and me accepting its consequences. The fact I had a pint of Dorothy Goodbody's instead of a creme de menthe and lemonade, and the fact that I then went home to cook a curry instead of staying in the Club and getting pissed like I normally do lay solely down to the coins in my pocket. That said, there is something faschistic about giving away moral responsibility to some plastic cubes. "I was only following orders."

Also, as Col said, he gets to choose his own options. Things he probably wanted to do anyway.

That said as an idea for a book it's not bad. If we all decided to live this way what would happen?
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