Reviews of Parnassus on Wheels (1917)
Review by branko (2003-12-04)
Parnassus on Wheels can be seen as a sort of comedy or errors, but for that it is not crude enough, not careless enough. It lacks a certain iconic style, in which every character is a charicature. On the other hand, for a 'serious' book it has too many weird plot twists. The way two characters suddenly fall in love with each other is almost skimped over. The author concocts a hasty explanation, and the reader is left to wonder what just happened.
This half hearted approach leaves me unconvinced. This lack of conviction is worsened by a third angle, a sort of preaching the love of books. The author was clearly unaware that preaching can only destroy, not create. The three book loving main characters appear as apostles converting the great unwashed, selling books to literary heathens.
Still, the novel is rather short and has a couple of enjoyable moments. It may not be for everybody, but if you like books about books, you might want to give it a go. Certainly the premise of a travelling book shop cannot be faulted. It is a rather ingenious starting point, I feel, only a pity that it was not fully explored by the author. What a Roald Dahl could have done with this theme!
If you feel the 11 $ Amazon charges for this book are a bit too much, you could even in a twist of delicious irony have the Internet Bookmobile print this work for you, at approx. 1 $ ( see http://webdev.archive.org/texts/bookmobile.php ).