Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Fountainhead

The FountainheadThe Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
Evan’s ESS = 7 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = PG (Adult Content, Violence, Language, Libel, Poor Decision Making)

Why:  Apparently this is the year of Ayn Rand.  We started off rather tentatively with her novella, Anthem.  Next, we nearly bit off more than we could chew in Atlas Shrugged, and as recent as this post, we are still trying to digest The Fountainhead.  To be honest, we feel much like we do after a typical Thanksgiving dinner: the food was definitely good, but we had way too much of the cranberry jello and the green bean casserole and that Snickerdoodle salad stuff and if we think about it too much it’s going to come back out the hard way.  Anyway, we’ll try to explain...  Sorry for the weird turn at the end.

Recently booted from the halls of academia, young and talented Howard Roark sets out on his own path to become an architect.  Howard has very specific views on style and refuses to be persuaded by the fickle whims of society.  In fact, no commission is worth even the slightest design compromise.  With such lofty opinions it’s only a matter of time before “the man” tries to break his resolve.  Will our young hero bend?  Will he become the most inspiring architect the world, nay, the universe has ever known?  Will he seek revenge as a nameless explosion extraordinaire, set on destroying his creations?  Tune in next time for another exciting... sorry.

In each of her books, Ayn Rand does a great job creating characters and circumstances that invoke meaningful thought.  The Fountainhead was no different.  Unfortunately, her characters are often so stubborn and so righteous that they’re almost unbelievable and not always likeable.  Enter Howard Roark and Dominique Francon.  These too characters are considered the superstars, yet much of their beliefs were lost on their questionable decision making.  On the flip side, they were entertaining.... 

Plus, we knew it was inevitable, and sure enough we got another John-Galt-like speech.  The speech was supposed to align the heavenly bodies, create world peace and reverse polar icecap thaw.  Yet, Roark’s speech was the low point of the novel by bogging down the narrative and interrupting the flow.  Despite making some interesting points the whole thing felt formulaic and seemed atypical of a character who never felt the need to defend his actions.  In the end, it only succeeded in leaving a bad taste in our mouths (shame on you for thinking the analogy at the beginning wasn’t going to come full circle).

And yet, we DID enjoy this novel.  The good DID outweigh the bad, only the bad has a funny way of getting stuck in your teeth.  We’ll try to end this review with some praise and justification for the otherwise high rating.  The Fountainhead was definitely a page turner with a complex and well thought out plot.  The characters were alive and full of drama (which we like)!  Any novel that that can exercise your brain has done its job and for that, Mrs. Rand, we are grateful.   

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