Title: Invisible Man
Author: Ralph Ellison
Page Count: 478
Okay, first thing’s first – don’t get this confused with the H. G. Wells novel, as apparently some people do. There was no chance of that here because I’ve already read the Wells novel and I’ve also already come across Ralph Ellison, and so I’d been looking forward to getting to this one.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t really engage with it. It’s not as though there’s anything wrong with it, although it’s perhaps a tad overwritten here and there and it’s definitely way longer than it really needed to be. It gets its point across, but it gets its point across pretty early and then just keeps on reinforcing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate this book for what it is, and it was definitely an important milestone in modern literature, especially in America. It does a great job of portraying the African American experience and shining a light on it from a different angle. It’s just that it isn’t particularly accessible, especially to a modern reader. Or maybe that’s just because I’m a white British dude.
I suppose I was just hoping for something like To Kill a Mockingbird, and while this does cover a lot of similar societal issues, this leans too heavily on the message and doesn’t leave the reader any room to arrive at their own interpretation. It’s sort of clunkily done, and it doesn’t have the engaging core story line that Harper Lee had.
And here we arrive at my biggest problem with this book, and that’s that I just don’t have anything else to say about it. This poses a challenge, because each of my reviews has the same word count as the book has pages, and so I’m going to have to bulk this one out a bit. Sorry about that – but on the plus side, we only have 150 words to go.
I think what it all comes down to is that I had high expectations for this one and then it just didn’t quite deliver. It’s one of those contemporary modern classics that I’ve heard a lot about, and I’d been feeling bad because I hadn’t got to it. Then I picked it up and felt glad that I’d left it as long as I did.
So it’s not that it isn’t worth reading, it’s just that it’s definitely not for everyone and it also feels like a product of its time. If you can get over that then I’m sure that you’re in for a lovely old time, but it just wasn’t for me. It failed to grab my attention from the outset, and even if it had managed to redeem itself, I would have got bored again anyway. So maybe skip this one unless you have to study it.