Thursday, September 14, 2006

Should you read Scott Smith's "The Ruins"?

Bryan Curtis covered Scott Smith's The Ruins for Slate.
The Ruins is Smith's first novel since his best-selling A Simple Plan (1993). After that book, Smith was hailed by Stephen King and others as a thriller writer with literary ambitions. The Ruins has so many ditzy metaphors and leaden characterizations—"Jeff had something about him that made people trust him"—that it succeeds in proving the opposite. Yet what makes this book so readable, and what separates Smith from his thriller-writing brethren, is his furious devotion to situational ethics. Smith's books pose the kind of dilemmas that ethics professors lob out to helpless undergraduates. To take one gruesome example from The Ruins: When your friend's mangled legs threaten to become gangrenous, do you leave him in agony? Or do you tap yourself to save his life by performing meatball surgery? ("There was the stench of the hot knife against Pablo's flesh, a cooking smell, meat burning … ")
Would you do the surgery? Would Bryan Curtis do the surgery? Would Bryan Curtis have you read the book? Click here to learn the answer to the last question.

Click here to learn what Bryan thinks about The Great Texas Novel.

Click here to visit the official site of The Ruins where you'll find more about the book and the author, an excerpt, and reviews.

--Marshal Zeringue