Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: The Hair of Harold Roux

The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams

The Hair of Harold Roux is a unique book. The novel tells the story of Aaron Benham, an author who is slowly working on his new novel: The Hair of Harold Roux. It soon comes clear that Benham's lead character "Allard Benson" is in fact Benham, and his novel is about his tumultous post WWII college days or as Benham describes it: "a simple story of seduction, rape, madness and murder - the usual human preoccupations."

Through this novel-within-a-novel you get a good sense of Benham's character. To me he was an incredibly believable and realistic character, probably due to his many flaws. In contrast, the other characters in the book did not seem nearly as realistic as Benham. The title character, Harold Roux, was not memorable, and Benham's love interest, Mary, who was meant to be the perfect woman in every sense, didn't seem that beautiful, amazing, or perfect to me at all. In comparison to the other characters, Benham is really what makes the book. His imperfections and outright stupidity seemed accurate for the kind of decisions a college kid may make. Often his shitty decisions made me hate him, but I attribute that to Williams skillfully being able to write a character that was so real.

The Hair of Harold Roux promises seduction, rape, madness and murder, and certainly delivers. There is no doubting the skill of Williams either. This a well written book, and a fine piece of literature. The Hair of Harold Roux is currently out of print, but I'm sure it can be found at a used book store or on the internet.


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