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I began reading this book a few months back, and got up to page 30. I had to put it down, to throw it out of my sight. It simply would not do. If I read any further, I was sure that I would give up my life and fly away to a small liberal arts college in Vermont. The Secret History is the story of aloof and eccentric classics students at a small liberal arts college in Vermont, and it is the most fantastic work of fiction I have read in quite some time.

I have taken the book up again, a few months later when the wanderlust waned. And once again the thought comes unbidden to my mind: This book is just so intelligent! On every page there’s some delightful twist of language of the sort that one only finds in a Keating speech, a book by Dawkins or anything blessed by the hand of Aaron Sorkin. It’s not written in the self-indulgent cocoon of meaning so favoured by most literature writing. I don’t care enough for your mediocre philosophy to interpret your metaphors and allusions, language should accentuate ideas. It should not act like an emo/goth/idiot speaking in tongues to seem deeper than he really is. The Secret History uses language like its meant to be used, to accentuate and enhance meaning and ideas by rendering them in sharp relief, without the plodding simplicity the plain language movement demands.

But more than that, the Secret History is so full of intelligent content. It’s filled with philosophical gems that sparkle even amongst the golden tapestry upon which it rests. References here there and everywhere to classical ideas. Profound reflections on how the Ancient Greeks embraced their savagery, rather than repressing it like the Romans. Sheer, and total brilliance.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Unlike most literary books, it has a compelling plot (so far as I can tell on page 90) and is very well-written. It makes me wish I had a modicum of writing ability in me. And now, I shall be booking tickets to America. With luck, I shall resist the urge to change my destination to Vermont.

In other, somewhat related, news Vermont has moved up my list of my favourite states in the Union, nudging New Hampshire out of the top 5.

1) Massachusetts

2) California

3) Utah

4) Delaware

5) Vermont

6) New Hampshire


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