David Anthony Durham's latest book, Pride of Carthage, is a tragedy — not for what it contains but for what is missing in it. The author's earlier Walk Through Darkness had flaws but also great strengths and occasionally scintillating prose. Pride, subtitled "A Novel of Hannibal", plods as it follows the Carthaginian general and his adversaries in their long marches across mountain ranges, swamps, deserts, and other hostile terrain. A cast of characters take turns stepping into the spotlight and then retreating, without ever getting a chance to become real people. Genitalia appear every few pages sans obvious purpose, except perhaps to underscore the crudeness of life in the third century B.C. Women and underclass individuals are depicted as anachronistically modern in thought and deed. Battle scenes are action-packed and momentarily engaging, but ultimately pointless.

On the whole, Pride of Carthage most closely resembles a writing assignment by a brilliant undergraduate — someone who did his research, organized his notes, and turned in the requisite number of pages. As such it gets an "A", but as a story it fails. What a shame; one hopes that Durham's next effort will be more inspired.

(cf. WalkThroughDarkness (10 Feb 2006), ...)

TopicLiterature - 2006-08-02

(correlates: WalkThroughDarkness, TypeVee, Comments on OozeOnVerst, ...)