Shut Up, Holden


I will probably finish Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, if only because I want to see if Quentin, Alice, Eliot, Janet, or Josh actually manage to accomplish anything with their intelligence and talent, or if their just going to fritter their lives away with sex and booze, all the while complaining about the uselessness of the world around them.

For a fantasy novel filled with magic and wizards and whatnot, there really is very little going on, save for one scene where it reads along the lines of “This thing showed up! It walked around! It scared us! Then it disappeared and everyone was scared for a while!” When engaged with a fantasy novel, one expects a little more to happen than that. I thought I was wandering into an adult-ish Harry Potter. What I’m getting is Holden Caulfield with some magic tricks thrown in.

I never liked Holden Caulfield.

I read Catcher in the Rye when I was about sixteen. Not for a class. Just because it was called a classic and revered as a great coming of age/rebellious teen novel. I went into the book thinking that I would like Holden, and I ended up loathing him. He seemed less a great example of teen angst and more a specimen of a privileged boy whining about how terribly hard it was to be him. I spent the entire novel wanting to throttle the brat while screaming “You’re just as phony as the people you’re whining about, you stupid git!”. But alas (or perhaps fortunately for me), Holden is a fictional character, and I couldn’t choke the life out of him. I also didn’t have to justify my dislike to a teacher trying to hold the book up as a paragon of something or other. We never did read it for class.

That’s where it feels like it’s going with The Magicians. A bunch of exceedingly intelligent people who learn to use magic, graduate from their prestigious magic school, and then do… Nothing, apparently. Of all the things they could do, they choose to piss and moan about how dreadful everyone around them is, and how the world is so empty.

I haven’t felt the urge to throw the book across the room yet, but I fear that moment may be coming. I will have to restrain myself. It is a library book, after all.

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