Saint Jack. Paul Theroux.

Theroux, Paul. Saint Jack. Houghton Mifflin New York, 1973. Electronic Kindle version. F;8/16.

I promised myself awhile ago that I wouldn’t write reviews of books I don’t like because it seemed like a waste of time. But this one, written by a well-known and I think well-regarded author, just sucked. It was so lacking in focus that I had to wonder why the thing was written at all. This short note just to advise you to steer clear of it.

Jack Flowers is an expat bachelor living in Singapore who knocks back and forth between a joe-job for a ship’s supply company and being a pimp and running a brothel. His dated racist chauvinist clubby nonsense are not the only reason we don’t like him (in spite of his archaic male noblesse oblige high opinion of himself). Any glimpse Theroux makes the mistake of giving us into old Jack’s (possibly just a wee bit autobiographical or aspirationally so?) inner life is reflected right back not only by the dirty mirror of his narcissism but also by his self-defeating meandering disorganized life. This could be in the way of making him some sort of anti-hero, but that certainly doesn’t work in any realistic way.

Pretty well the entire plot line is concerned with sex, which only deepens our ennui as the few overt sex scenes are arrogant-ironic as though Saint Jack somehow wanted to save us harmless from the rough realities of his frequently-emphasized successful conquests.

Terrible. 2.6/3.8.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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