The End of the Road

The End of the Road



The Pequod Review:

The End of the Road, John Barth’s second book, is a blackly comic novel that at its core is a battle of philosophical ideas between two college teachers — one a nihilistic English professor and the other an existentialist history teacher. Barth's narrative doesn’t quite hold together, and his allegorical characters are too undeveloped. But Barth writes great sentences and paragraphs:

Late that morning I drove the thirty miles from Wicomico to Ocean City, there to fry my melancholy in the sun and pickle it in the ocean. But light and water only made it blossom. The beach was crowded with human beings whose reality I found myself loath to acknowledge; another day they might have been as soothingly grotesque as was my furniture, but this day they were merely irritating. Furthermore, perhaps because it was a weekday, there was not a girl on the beach worth the necessary nonsense involved in a pickup. Only a forest of legs ruined by childbirth; fallen breasts, potbellies, haggard faces, and strident voices; a rats’ nest of horrid children, as unlovely as they were obnoxious. When one is not in the spirit of it, there are few things less diverting than a public beach.