Having run out of Sumo DVDs, and whilst awaiting the beginning of baseball season, we've been watching Wooster and Jeeves videos. One of Wooster's buddies is fanatical about newts. When I discovered that Harold Bloom considered this book to be part of the western literature canon (I discovered this thanks, I suppose, to more prodding/nagging by Becca
), of course I had to read it.
The concept was rather good, and the beginning promising. I must admit, however, I got tired of the book toward the end. Hence, only 3*s.
An irascible old sea captain discovers a cove in the south pacific inhabited by rather large newts. They walk around on their hind legs and are 3–4 feet tall. He discovers that he can train them to dive for pearls for him. This works fine, until they have extracted all the pearls from his cove. So, he seeks a partner who will build him a boat to transport newts to other places where they can get pearls for him. After a while, people discover that they can get the newts to do all manner of things along the coast, fix harbor infra structure, shore up fortifications and so forth. Almost free labor who will work tirelessly for a little food and some shiny tools. Well, the newts propagate to the extent that they pretty much outnumber people by more than an order of magnitude. So, they, the newts that is, need more harbor space, which leads them to begin blowing up and flooding the land near the seas. Well, it all gets complicated....
This book has lots of observations on the human condition, our frailties, the frailties of the national characters of nations during the 1930s, the frailties of business people whose only interest is short-term profits, and so forth.