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Three Lives (Dover Thrift Editions)

Three Lives - Gertrude Stein I thought the first story - "The Good Anna" - was quite alright, and I sort of liked the last story - "The Gentle Lena". Had the novel consisted of just these two stories, I probably would have given it three stars. The use of repetition was interesting, and unusual, and even if I've seen the technique used more successfully in other works of fiction, I can appreciate it for what it was at the time of publication. Also, in "The Gentle Lena" (my favourite of the three stories), the repetitions were interspersed with an easy-moving and sad tale, with a plot and characters that managed to hold my interest. Read it in one sitting.

However, the reason the book only gets two stars from me, is because of the second story, "Melanctha". It bored me to tears, I'm sorry to say, and is the reason I have spent three months finishing this quite short book. The repetitious language was not interspersed with a very interesting plot, nor was it moving at a pace where I could endure the monotony at long stretches of time. Two-thirds into the story I simply gave up and skipped forward to "The Gentle Lena", and I'm not sorry about it. "Melanctha" could have been sliced down to half its lenght, and might've been quite interesting in that case. As is however, it was much too dull to finish.

Still, I do appreciate the groundbreaking nature of the work, and Stein in many ways must have paved the way for a new approach to literature and writing, which I much admire. That could not have been easy.