WARNING: Ripping Book Reviews are solely the judgments of Professor VJ Duke on an unlucky book that has caused him much repulsion—in one way or another. Therefore, blame must be put on the author and nobody else. With that in mind, read on—if you are brave enough to take it.
SO BIG by EDNA FERBER
In truth, the professor wasn’t going to rip this book. In truth this is true.
But, as fate would have it, I opened the dadblame thing, and this is the first sentence I read:
The girl put her dollar plumply back into her purse.
A new perspective was born.
And it was born with some repulsion.
I must admit, the professor is still trying to work out how a dollar could be placed plumply anywhere.
Perhaps it’s—oh, rats and a heifer! We all know it’s dadblamery!
The story follows Selina Peake DeJong, which is an interest—and not only because of the name. You see, the book is named after her kid, Dirk.
Apparently, Selina would torture the young Dirk with the questions, “How big is baby? How big is my man?”
To which the boy would reply, “So-o-o-o big!”
It was a trap. And Sobig became Dirk’s nickname. And he hated it eventually.
Rather a silly way to go about naming a book, I think.
Nothing much happens in the novel—which is a supreme wonder. The book is too thick to pull that sort of trick. Plus, it’s a low-down sort of trick.
In fact, after reading the novel, the professor would have rather followed Dirk’s life. It would have been much more interesting than Selina’s.
I’m not sure.
Now, here is an interest [quoted from the novel]:
It was after reading “Pride and Prejudice” that she [Selina] decided to be the Jane Austen of her time. She became very mysterious and enjoyed a brief period of unpopularity at Miss Fister’s owing to her veiled allusions to her “work”; and an annoying way of smiling to herself and tapping a ruminative toe as though engaged in visions far too exquisite for the common eye.
You see, at first the professor thought that Selina meant she wanted to be an author—like Jane Austen presumably was. (There’s much debate on that subject.)
But the professor was in error.
Selina wanted to be like Jane Austen by copying her attitude!
It makes perfect sense.
For instance, after deciding to be the Jane Austen of her time, Selina did the following:
(1) She became mysterious. (Had she decided to take up the pen, Selina would most definitely have written something quite akin to—and disturbingly similar to—Austen Obscurity.)
(2) She enjoyed a brief period of unpopularity. (Jane Austen enjoyed such things all the time.)
(3) And we learn something new about Jane Austen. She apparently had an annoying habit of tapping a ruminative toe as if engaged in visions far too exquisite for the common person. (How one can have a ruminative—deeply thinking—toe is beyond the professor. It’s a bummer.) Maybe her visions had to do with Darby [i.e. Darcy]. In that case, it’s not wonder she kept it a secret.
I fear that was the most enjoyable part of the novel. The book does prattle on for a good long while.
Longer than necessary.
And longer than what is fair.