Title: Three Lives
Author: Gertrude Stein
Page Count/Review Word Count: 262
I feel a bit harsh about giving this only three out of five, but the truth is that while I could appreciate Stein’s brilliance, it just didn’t excite me. Her work, which was revolutionary at the time, still feels innovative, but it struggles to compete with plenty of other modern classics. It’s the kind of book that you ought to read if you’re serious about literature, but which you need to be a real Stein geek to fully appreciate.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, though. It actually flew by, and this is a rare example of when a book’s introductory essay actually added a lot of value to me, as a reader. It helped to place the work into context, and it forewarned me about some of the stumbling blocks that put people off, like Stein’s repetition of language.
But that’s kind of the point of it, and Stein uses this book to effectively create the literary equivalent of a realist painting. Sure, there isn’t much plot – but it does a great job of bringing fictional people to life in your mind’s eye through the language they use alone, and that can only be a good thing. The truth is that there isn’t much like this on the market, even now – 100 years after its initial publication.
So should you read this? Well, it sort of depends upon whether you like to read classics. But if you do, you should!