The Golden Mean : A book Review


It starts out with Aristotle taking notes on his wife’s genitals as part of his study of nature and how things work. My thoughts are “O I hope I find the strength to spend the next 300 pages with this man.” I was reading The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon. I wish I could report that things picked up from there, but my experience with the book kept on plunging into lower depths.

When I had young children, there was a phase where I felt that my whole life revolved around poop. Between diaper changing and toilette training, the subject matter seemed to get lots of attention. I sorta have this theory, that Annabel Lyon, the author of the Golden Mean, who was tending to young children while writing the book was going through that particular phase and discharged its energy into her creative work. There is lots of detailed description of bowel movements in this novel. Although it makes for a unique angle on character development, it misses the mark on the main subject matter. The book is supposed to be about the relationship between Aristotle and his student Alexander the Great, but that gets lost in the midst of the other stuff hitting the fan. There is a light treatment of the idea of pursuing a middle in between too extremes, but that never goes very deep nor does it elevate itself into the realm of being thought provoking.

At the end of the novel I realized that I didn’t learn anything new about Aristotle that I didn’t know before, nor did I learn anything about Alexander the great. Instead of being called the Golden Mean it should have been called “Everybody Poops, even Aristotle”” or perhaps “People go Pee Pee when they are not Pooing”. It is a soulless novel filled with descriptions of human excrement. Perhaps the next one will be called “Palto plays with Playdough”.
Perhaps I would have written a less poopy review had I waited a few days to forget the book, but my mind is filled with images of the brown substance.

If you want to read a great historical novel I highly recommend anything by Amin Maalouf especially Samarkand. If you prefer literary treatment of what happens in a toilette I suggest Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey . Perhaps there is a room to mix both genres, but this book comes short on both fronts.

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