The Cleft: Doris Lessing – Great Idea Falls Flat
The Cleft by Doris Lessing
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This is an example of a mediocre (even bad) book with a promising blurb. The story of human creation, where the first beings were not men but only women (called Clefts). Boy children first appeared as anomalies of birth and then a trend that threatened and changed the social structures as they were. The book is probably an attempt to trace the source of tensions between the sexes, the mixture of fascination & mistrust with which we regard each other. Just like any other long-running war, this story suggests that the origins of the battle of the sexes may have been forgotten but the tensions persist for exactly the same reasons.
However, the story-telling is too loose and rambling. Worst of all, it feels like the author can’t decide whether this is fiction or non-fiction. On one hand there’s the pontificating, the editorializing, the ‘this is fact and then this is what I conclude’ bits that point to non-fiction. On the other hand, there are characters (though not very well-created), specific episodes which have no basis in history, which make it seem like fiction. Even so, the plots are not developed adequately, the characters not fleshed out well and the storyline not clearly defined.
I gave up this mid-way because it just got tedious to read. It’s just so sad when a writer chances upon a great idea and then messes it up this way.
I wonder how did the author explain procreation with just one sex.