Armed with this knowledge and a better understanding of Delany's style I went back at 'Dhalgren,' and failed. So I tried again, and failed. And after several more attempts at finishing it off I finally got myself in the right mindset and polished it off. When people say that it's a difficult book they're not fooling around, both the subject matter and the writing style make this novel difficult to grab hold of. Delany plays pretty loose with the time structure in the novel, the protagonist has blank spots in his memory early in the novel that seem to be filled in further on, though there's no indication if it actually was chronologically later.
The edition of the novel I read had a forward written by William Gibson and I think his assessment is the best. This novel is a question without an answer, a riddle that wasn't meant to be solved. The novel is open-ended, and open for interpretation. Whatever story you're looking to find inside of 'Dhalgren' is there, but if you're looking for help from the author in what to see you're not going to find it.
I have to say that I really did enjoy the novel. I don't have any insight to offer as far as interpretation. I think each person just has to read 'Dhalgren' for them self, find their own meaning in it. I will say that it helps to be in the right mindset when you open the book, and this is one of those novels that almost needs to be read at a specific point in one's life. I think I would have enjoyed this book more had I read it when I was in a more tumultuous period of my life, but as it was I did enjoy it. I've got my own theories about some of the things that occurred in the book, and what the ending means, and I've got my own questions about the book that I'd really like someone to answer for me. I've seriously thought about checking some college libraries to see if anyone had written their thesis on this book. I still don't know if I'll do it.
One thing I can say about the book is it really is timeless. This novel could have been written a year ago and it would read just the same. Knowing it was written in the seventies might inform our opinion of the novel somewhat, but it's not as important as some other books. It's rare to find an SF novel (if this can be called SF) from the seventies that doesn't date itself, but Delany managed to write something with equal appeal now as then. Also, as difficult as this book is to wrap your head around you need to remember that it was a best seller, selling over a million copies when it was published.