Week 14 and we all know it’s not my fourteenth week of reading. Fnarg. Right, this next review might be slightly less sucky than I, Claudius, though not by much. Here we go… review two out of two: The Dice Man. Beware that this is also posted in all its unedited glory and it probably shows.
Original title: The Dice Man
By: Luke Rhinehart
Published by Klim 2011
First published 1971
In the beginning was Chance, and Chance was with God and Chance was God …. There was a man sent by Chance, whose name was Luke …. And Chance was made flesh … and he dwelt among us, full of chaos, and falsehood and whim. — from The Book of the Die
So begins this 1970s classic of sex, drugs, and, of course, dice. Bored psychiatrist Luke Rhinehart lives with his wife and two children in their “slightly upper, slightly east” apartment in Manhattan. Dissatisfied with both Western and Eastern philosophies, alternately embracing the meaningfulness and meaninglessness of life, Luke’s world is forever changed when he finds religion through the simple roll of the die and is “stunned and converted — as only the utterly bored can be”.
Let the dice decide This is the only path to liberation and truth for Dr. Rhinehart and his patients. It seems sex is always an option as they roll their way through therapy sessions, relationships, parenting — even a mental institution breakout. Luke spreads his new religion with a hilarious combination of evangelical fervor and moral depravity, turning his life — and in some ways the world — on its ear. Because once you hand your life over to the dice, anything can happen.
A rollicking good read and an irreverent parody of American psychoanalytical culture, The Dice Man is entertaining, humorous, shocking, and subversive — one of the international cult bestsellers of our time.
Rating on Goodreads: (it was okay)
This is a difficult one. Let me from the beginning say this:
I will not comment on whether or not living your life by the dice is a good idea. Personally I’d never do it, because my perfectionism would freak out and kill me, but that’s as much as I’ll say on the matter. I’ll deal with the book only and then you can all keelhaul me for not “getting” it.
So let’s start talking about what I believe is the best aspect of this book: the writing. The dialogue is very witty and I even chuckled reading this. I liked the experimental things he did with his writing: changing viewpoint, including excerpts from “reports,” all those weird little things. I like it. It brilliantly portrays what the book is all about and the random nature of what is being portrayed. Not going to lie – that’s brilliant. It is brilliantly written.
Characters… geh, meh, fneh. I don’t like them. Yeah, I think it’s because it’s very seventies, if you catch my drift. Rhinehart is the protagonist and he’s just insane, the other characters are all conformists ruled by the Evul Society™ until he turns them into Dice people and, let’s be honest, he usually does that with sex, somehow. Amazing what you can do with your di… dice. And the worst aspect of this, I guess, is really the portrayal of women. Because they’re all… well, they’re all horny. They’re all reformed by Rhinehart’s holy di… ce and that’s cool and all, but he’s not even trying to create nuanced female characters. Even a Christian girl who’s a afraid of God’s punishment can be convinced to have sex with strangers if you just work her the right way. It does feel like every single female character in this book is merely there for Rhinehart to have sex with… *trying to think of a female character he didn’t bang* well, there’s his young daughter and a co-worker. That’s it. Do correct me if I’m wrong… or just don’t “get” it.
Wee, chickens! He, he, he, they’re all so happy because rocks make them trip and smile. Oooh, that thing has numbers on it! Wait, wait, I get it! This is marshmallows? They melt in the heat and go away on a rainy day. Yeah, yeah, I get it now. Wow, I want to be a potato when I grow up. Tee hee, lemons.
Right, so what I’m trying to say is: this book is insane. I already mentioned that the main character is insane and you know, I won’t take that back. He’s insane and he’s completely unsympathetic. Now, I did my research: the writer Luke Rhinehart (one article I found states that he actually changed his name from George Cockroft (and I’d totally change my name too if it was Cockroft) into Luke Rhinehart to confuse people) actually lives his life by the dice, though I sincerely hope in a less extreme form than this. When you read descriptions of the book it’ll say it deals with rape, murder, drugs and that’s pretty much the essence of it. Again, I’ll only say the main character is insane and I don’t like him and I’ll leave my judgement at that.
The plot didn’t really do much for me and coupled with the annoying female characters, it even made me a bit mad. The writer obviously likes his main character a bit too much (if you really change your name to your character’s, you’re in Canon Stu-territory already) and gives him success after success when he should have been caught and locked up.
In the end, no I probably don’t “get” this book. I never did like the ‘durr durr mah life is boring, gotta do sumfin’ cwazy’-plot and I don’t like that this book apparently feels like all women will willingly have sex with you if you only pressure them enough. I like the writing and I guess that’s about it, ‘cause I’ll give him it’s well-written and it’s even funny. In the end, though, good writing is not enough and the sheer annoyance I feel towards the main character, the plot and the depiction of females makes this book a what-the-f**k more than a good reading experience. If it’s just me who doesn’t “get” it, sorry, but I’m sort of glad that I don’t.