Author E.B. White once said: “Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.” Substitute “literature” for “humor” in that quote and you will understand the reason why I disliked this book. I felt that Foster’s strained analytical style efficiently robbed the mystery, joy and suspension of disbelief from almost every literary example he gave. If he was a theater or film critic, he would probably spend a lot of time analyzing the wallpaper on the fourth wall. Knowing that “there’s only one story…every story you’ve ever read or heard or watched is part of it” (32) and then searching for traces from the “canon of literature” in every other work does not enrich my reading experience, but dampens it. Yes, damp as if it was rained on and if you read page 75, you’ll learn that “It’s never just rain” and you’ll be able to read deeply into why I supposedly chose that particular word. A lot of the book was spent in defining symbols and themes as “whatever you think they mean,” which is frustratingly unhelpful. Also, from his comments, Foster seems to view Freud favorably, which I find revolting.
Update: I Stumbled on this perfect illustration of the book.