Author: E. E. Cummings
Publication Date: 1922
Review Score: 6/10
Based on Cummings own experience during World War 1, The Enormous Room follows the story of an American ambulance driver and his best friend, stationed in France, who are arrested after some of their anti-war letters are intercepted.
The pair are thus sent to the La-Ferte prison, a rundown cesspit filled with men of all nationalities, none of whom seem to have actually done anything wrong! The reader is then introduced to the colourful characters the pair meet during their time in captivity, as well as living with them through their quite unique prison experience.
I found the first part of The Enormous Room highly entertaining, as we meet the pair of “criminals” and follow them on their journey across France to the La-Ferte prison, accompanied by a couple of completely incompetent police officers.
Once in the prison we start to be introduced to the array of characters that have somehow ended up in this hell hole. The stories start out intriguing and the characters are very enjoyable, but then the problem I had with the book was that there were just too many of these characters!
Introduction, introduction, introduction, I felt like I could never get too invested with any of the characters as every 2 seconds there was a new one on the scene! The entrances and exits of these characters also seemed to get more and more lazy with less thought and explanation behind each one as the book went on.
Don’t get me wrong, Cummings is an excellent writer and his creation of all these personalities and the prison surroundings is very impressive, but I just felt like I couldn’t really get into the book as it was always as if I was on chapter 1, being introduced to the main protagonist.