An American Tragedy -Theodore Dreiser

I am still not sure what to make of this book. It is the story of a boy and tells of three chapters of his life. First, his poor upbringing and efforts to leave his poverty behind, ended in a tragic accident. Second, the period of time he spends in Lycurgus new york. this time contrasts his seduction of a working girl that works in his department, and his eventual introduction and acceptance into Lycurgus society and courtship of a very prominent and beautiful girl from a wealthy family. followed by his balancing the affections of the second girl while trying to resolve the problem of having gotten the first girl pregnant, ending with him killing the first girl in a tragic and confusing set of circumstances. Finally, his trial and eventual execution for killing the first girl.

The first part I found a little boring due to the fact that the boy, Clyde, is an idiot. His troubles in the first part are juvenile and easily solved, but turned into drama through his own incompetence.

The second part was distressing for personal reasons. His being in love with one girl and then quickly forgetting her when another girl came along reminded me a little too much of a young me and made reading that part of the book uncomfortable.

The final part of the book was uncomfortable for another reason. the majority of it is descriptions of the Clyde's trial for murder. attorneys for both sides cavalierly did things that would get them disbarred immediately now. but then end of the book when Clyde is trying to find God before his execution was what is going to stick with me for a long time. I do not like the death penalty, and this book seemed to describe fairly well the torment that a person who is to be executed goes through. Probably not as well as different books on this subject, but still haunting in my opinion.

All in all, it is a good book that touches on a large number of subjects worth thinking about. It dragged in places, but the poignancy of the topics it addresses makes it worth reading.