|I admit I have never felt less certain of my opinion about a work than I do with this distinctive collection of fiction by George Thomas Clark. I'll have to give The Bold Investor time to percolate in my mind and probably re-read the collection closely at some point as well. At this point, I can articulate some clear observations and analyses that may be of more service to you, fellow readers, than my ultimate conclusion about the total literary merit of this read.
There were two things I appreciated deeply and unambivalently about Clark's unique narrative style and plot content:
A) His sense of absurdity and his tragicomic sense of humor. The irony in his stories isn't going to please everyone, and it didn't always sit well with me. But, his general narrative tone--which I think is best termed a sensitivity to and an appreciation of life's absurdity--kept me intellectually engaged and entertained throughout my read.
B) His unmistakable love of language, which is evidenced throughout the book from the small font packed tightly on each physical page to delicious sentences, which feature vocabulary in clever ways that I consider representative of Clark's idiomatic style. I had seen such a sentence in one of my favorite stories, "Cal Tech [sic] versus Notre Dame," but I just scanned the story twice and cannot find it. Here's a pretty good quotation to represent a lot of what I like about Clark's collection generally in this quotation from the aforementioned story:
"'That is unsupportable, unscientific, and manifestly absurd,' said Marx. 'So many of you traditionalists were unable to adapt to dynamic and challenging new realities. Mired, as you've always been, in the arcane and unreal world of the laboratory, you would've preferred to gaze into test tubes until liquidators backed trucks up to your doors. The super-universities have been bleeding us for years, offering outrageous salaries to our most esteemed colleagues...It damn near destroyed my spirit, seeing former Cal Tech [sic] professors develop cures for herpes, baldness, impotence, and hysteria, and their new institutions reap millions of dollars. Those Nobel-caliber studs have got to be paid years before their work reaches fruition, and there was only one way we could hope to do so.'"
The main problem I had with the book--the only unfavorable reaction I had--is related to the titular, final story "The Bold Investor." I found the ending hopeful and unsurprising, but I'm not sure I understood it properly. And, depending on how I interpret the story, I might even find the themes offensive or at least disturbing. I would not expect other people to have that reaction, please note. However, it's an example of a failure to clearly set forth his thematic purpose as well as how his sense of irony might not amuse.
I hope this is helpful to someone; thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts