From our guest blogger Juliette.
Following my recent musings on whether or not to read Ayn Rand, I couldn't find The Fountainhead - and thought I'd go straight for the motherlode. So I've started reading Atlas Shrugged with some curiosity.
First, the good. Ayn Rand's prose style is way, way better than I was expecting. In fact, I'd say that she is, technically, an extremely good writer.
But I have to say, sixty pages in, it's still not gripping or inspiring me.
This is probably because I want to attack her cast of smug, annoying assholes with a length of two by four.
I have never in my life read a book packed to capacity with so many toxically self-satisfied, unbelievably unlikeable pricks. So far, I particularly hate the so-called heroine, Dagny Taggart
(all Ayn Rand's characters have names like movie stars in Jackie Collins bonkbusters. Don't even get me started on Midas Mulligan.)
Dagny Taggart - who, like the heroine of Cassandra's Conflict, really isn't classically beautiful at all - is a world-class pain in the rectum. She's always doing things like gazing out of her office window at the ant like hordes far below. And constantly thinking how superior she is to the little people around her, with their petty lives. And how she has no interest in anything in life apart from her family business and, as a child, mathematics (which must make her fun to sit next to at dinner parties.) And how her unique energy, vision and talent have seen her rise - with incredible speed and ease - to become Head of Operations at Taggart Trains.
You can't help thinking that this extraordinarily rapid rise through the ranks may have something to do with the fact that HER FATHER OWNED THE FRIGGING COMPANY.
But this is clearly something which has never occurred to her.
Likewise, I dare say Kim Jong Il frequently pats himself on the back for his astounding achievements in life.
'Just think. Twenty years ago, I was the obscure eldest son of the Dear Leader. Now, through pure talent and hard work, I've managed to become the Dear Leader myself. Kiss my ass, little people. Rock and roll.'
I haven't got to the Big Message Bit yet. But - having read a few reviews, and knowing the basic storyline - I can see it approaching me like an oncoming train with every passing sentence.
People who make a lot of money do so because they have vision, genius and unlimited creative energy - and we ordinary, little people should be grateful to have such godlike entities in our midst.
This was clearly written by a woman who had never heard of Jeffrey Archer, Sir Fred Goodwin or Katie Price.
If they were to fuck off to some deserted island (oh, if only), I sincerely doubt that the world would grind to a halt.
Although of course, I might be wrong.
I can see it now. London has become a burning, dystopian wilderness. Weeping commoners lurch through the crumbling streets like haggard ghosts, tearing at their hair as they survey the nightmarish desolation before them. Desperate cries ring out through the rubble, rising through the smoke towards an unseen and indifferent god...
'Have mercy! Who will steal our profits now!'
'Come back! We can't live without your awful ghost-written books about ponies!'
Meanwhile, on an idyllic deserted island, Fred, Jeffrey and Katie are having a gang bang (apologies for the haunting image). Musing on how much better life is, now they're no longer surrounded by the intellectual midgets, petty detractors and small-minded fools who have held back their titanic genius in the regular world - which rewards banality, dishonesty and mediocrity, and fears and punishes true visionary greatness such as they possess.
Before, hopefully, they're all eaten by a passing shark.
It takes quite something to make me feel like a commie.
But - by popular consensus - Ayn Rand really was quite something.
Posted by Juliette who is being brave and reading Atlas Shrugged
Its an allegory.