Novelist Richard Rayner, author of the architecture-themed Devil’s Wind, offers up a (who could have predicted?) mixed review of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged for the Log Angeles Times.
He wraps up his review with these somewhat warm, if conflicted, observations:
It’s page-turning stuff, though Rand offers more than a swift succession of “Da Vinci Code”-style story beats. Her descriptions of buildings and landscapes are often brilliant, and she was good at letting the physical world stand for emotion or state of mind. “There was a cold wind outside,” she writes, “sweeping empty stretches of land. He saw the thin branches of a tree being twisted, like arms waving in an appeal for help. The tree stood against the glow of the mills.” She also excels at evoking the peculiar weightlessness of a big party; her understanding of the ruthless dynamic of social competition recalls the sharpness of Jane Austen and suggests that Rand herself was the snubbed outsider at a Hollywood party or two. Stir in the scarcely repressed sado-masochism that tingles through every sexual encounter and you get the Randian fictional brew, a little silly, pretty weird, but thrilling and highly effective.
For decades, critics have scorned Rand for creating paper-thin characters while millions of readers have found that Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart live with them forever. Clearly, she was doing something right. Her message — that each individual can and must without help blaze his or her own path through life — is inspiring, even to those who might already have learned better. More than this, though, it’s the texture, the warp and weave of “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” that compels. Rand called her philosophy “objectivism,” yet the inside of her head, as revealed by these two novels, so much greater and richer and stranger than the simplistic slogans that tend to be adduced from them, was happily unique.
Ya gotta love that tortured last sentence, especially from a fellow novelist.
See his full review for more. I wonder if his own novel is enjoyable.