Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Prairie by James Fenimore Cooper

I know, I'm just a blogging fiend today. I've got to get all these books out of my head so I can think about the next ones. The Prairie is the third of Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales that I've read this year, the others being The Pioneers and The Last of the Mohicans. There are five Leatherstocking Tales, and I originally intended to read all of them this year, but I just don't know if I can do it. Now, The Last of the Mohicans was pretty good, and The Pioneers had some good parts, especially the end. (No, not because it was the end). The Prairie was my least favorite so far. Again, the ending was the best part. The novels seem to drag at various points, with plot and dialogue being uninteresting, but they always pick up at the end. That is Fenimore Cooper's greatest strength. After three novels' worth of Nathaniel Bumpo fighting Indians, protecting damsels and waxing eloquent about nature, I feel like I'm reading the same thing over and over. As an aside, Mark Twain wrote a satirical essay called Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences, which I found quite humorous. He describes Fenimore Cooper's writing style more critically than I would think accurate, but it's eight pages of satire, it's funny, and it's free at Project Gutenberg. Check it out. Maybe check out Fenimore Cooper first, so you know what you're laughing at.

Hero: the trapper aka Hawkeye aka the Deerslayer aka Natty Bumpo aka Leatherstocking
Bad guys: the Tetons and some lawless white settlers
Good guys: the Sioux and some nice white settlers
Two-dimensional plot devices: the females (as Fenimore Cooper calls them)
There was a lot of: tracking, shooting, spying, sneaking up, escaping, capturing
There should have been more: plot. I really shouldn't have read Twain's essay before writing this entry. hee hee
This book makes you want to: fall asleep (help me, I can't stop myself)
This book makes you glad you don't have to: die alone in the wilderness without family, step on dry twigs an inopportune moments, read the last two books in the series, although I probably will anyway

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