The Graduate by Charles Webb

Right then. So you’ll be glad to know I haven’t actually died, but it’s been a hectic week of moving into two different houses (neither of which had Internet access) and accepting tht as all my wordly possessions are shoved into boxes that I really don’t want to unpack, I’ll be living in the same set of clothes for years to come.

Anyway, I have a ridiculous of catching up to do on Booking In Heels, so bear with me.

Amazon – ‘As far as Benjamin Braddock’s parents are concerned, his future is sewn up. Now he has graduated from college, he will go to Yale or Harvard, get a good job and enjoy a life of money, cocktails and pool parties in the suburbs, just like them. For Benjamin, however, this isn’t quite enough. When his parents’ friend Mrs Robinson, a formidable older woman, strips naked in front of him and they begin an affair, it seems he might have found a way out. That is, until her daughter Elaine comes into the picture, and things get far more complicated.’
I expected great things from this novel, as it’s practically a cult classic. There’s even been a song written about it, for God’s sake. I tried to like it, I really did, as I always assume that books are made into films and rereleased dozens of times for some supposed literary merit… but my Literary Merit Detector must be broken today, because I just don’t see it.
The plot is fairly standard – older woman meets younger boy, they have sex a lot. Younger boy apparently falls in love with older woman’s daughter, but is actually just a little bit of a creepy stalker. Terrible dialogue ensues. It did genuinely shock me on a few occasions though – not because of the relationship (you know you need to think seriously about your reading habits when you believe a 45 year old married woman messing about with a 21 year old boy is perfectly normal), but because of the occasional plot twist and the way Benjamin is pretty much abused by everybody in his life.
There was one thing that really irked me though, and I’ve just flipped back and it’s justified. There isn’t one single piece of conversation where the characters aren’t arguing or sniping at each other. Not one. I’ve never read a book that features such an array of unlikeable characters, especially Ben himself. He’s meant to be a mature, accomplished college graduate, and instead he just whines and shouts and sighs like a spoilt teenager. 
It wouldn’t be so bad if it was good dialogue. It just feels so stilted. Half the time the characters just repeat the words of the other characters back at them. It never flows, it never feels natural… it’s just angry, unrealistic, badly-written sniping. It’s this that really lets the book down – if it could just be rewritten by an author with a knack for dialogue and characters you could at understand, it would be an enjoyable little novella.
I’ve just remembered that there’s a pub in Sheffield called The Graduate. I’m now slightly over-excited in case its a previously undiscovered book reference!

Comments

  1. I haven't read this one even though I've heard a lot about it. Thanks for the heads up!

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