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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
City of Truth by James Morrow 
10th-Aug-2006 11:59 pm
I read a review of James Morrow's latest, and boy did its premise look fascinating...so I decided to try one of his books. Semi-disappointing; I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given that the premise was far better than the actual execution.

Morrow, James. City of Truth. 1990. New York: Harvest, 1993.
Summary: In the city of Veritas, people are brutally conditioned to tell the truth all the time...and that's all good, until art "critic" (read: destroyer) Jack Sperry discovers that his son has contracted a fatal illness and decides that he must learn how to lie, so that he can tell the boy that he'll get better, and the boy will believe him and make it happen. To that end, he makes contact with the dissemblers and their secret city Satirev underground, but even learning to lie doesn't save his son, and, ultimately, Jack and his wife decide to flee Veritas.
Comments: Without the slightest doubt, Veritas and its literally truthful ridiculousness is by far the best part of the tale. You'll find yourself laughing at the names of cars (Ford Sufficient and Toyota Acceptable) to the names of places (Camp Ditch-the-Kids and Booze Before Breakfast), and the conversations between people can be quite humorous as well. Less impressive by far is the plot; I know people can take leave of their senses when someone they love is endangered, but the whole faith healing thing is just moronic. (Especially since Morrow's novel it has been proven that a positive attitude DOESN'T CHANGE JACK SHIT.) And the ultimate conclusion--that people need to be given a choice between truth and lies in order for anything to be meaningful--(never mind the brutal conditioning that's the lynchpin of the whole operation) feels like Clockwork Orange lite and leaves me most unimpressed. Choice as universal panacea is overrated, and only those who were wholly free in the first place will fully appreciate a full range.
Notes: trade paperback, 3rd printing
Rating: 5/10 - Morrow is clever...but not quite clever enough to carry off a genuinely good story. For those who like their sci-fi satirical as opposed to rigorous.
11th-Aug-2006 12:53 pm (UTC)
I quite liked City of Truth, although I agree the idea of the city of Veritas itself is the best part of the book.
11th-Aug-2006 01:13 pm (UTC)
Have you read any of Morrow's other books? Are any of them worth reading?
11th-Aug-2006 01:19 pm (UTC)
No, that's the only one I've read.
11th-Aug-2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
I think I'll add this to my book list, based just upon the premise. It sounds hilarious, despite the subpar plotline.
12th-Aug-2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
*nods* It's definitely great if you need a good, wry laugh. ^_^
1st-Sep-2006 05:23 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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