Friday, 28 October 2011

BOOKS I'VE ABANDONED

I don't know if there's something wrong with the books at the moment, or something wrong with me, but I seem to be abandoning literature left and right.

I feel somehow I ought to finish books I begin, but then I'm overwhelmed by how very short a time we get to live, and I throw them gleefully aside.

SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison
This woman has won the Pultizer, and I was all ready to love her work. I found this one however to be in essence a fakey pastiche of Zora Neale Hurston. Here's the paragraph that broke this camel's back:
I worked right alongside my father. Right alongside him. From the time I was four or five we worked together. Just the two of us. Our mother was dead. Died when Pilate was born. Pilate was just a baby. She stayed over at another farm in the daytime.

TULIPOMANIA: THE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST COVETED FLOWER AND THE EXTRAORDINARY PASSIONS IT AROUSED by Mike Dash

Reinforcing my prejudice against books with colons in the title, I found this to be a dull book on a promising subject. The promising subject was the fact that in the eighteenth century there was a bubble, not so much in tulips, as in tulip futures, with single bulbs changing hands for vast fortunes, This struck me as an interesting paradigm for thinking about our various contemporary bubbles, but no such luck. The only interesting thing I learnt from this book was that in the nineteenth century the Ottoman Emperors used to let a condemned run a race of half a mile with their executioner. If you won, you lived; if not, you died.


GERALD DURRELL: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY by Douglas Botting

I read the first eighty pages of this over someone's shoulder. It's a pretty interesting book about a very successful life. He doesn't pull any punches, either, about how successful:
All the Indians agreed that I was a special baby, and that I had been born with a golden spoon in my mouth and that everything during my lifetime would be exactly as I wished it. Looking back at my life, I see that they were quite right.
Check out the bookcover though. I can't believe that turned out exactly as he wished it.

THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco

A murder mystery set in a monastery. Dull and self-consciously postmodern.

6 comments:

  1. We all go through a lull with reading - it can be uncomfortable can't it - but sometimes there just isn't enough space! I have tried books and given up in the early pages - only to return to them a year or so later and loved them. Timing?
    Beloved by Toni Morrison is one of my favourite books. I do recommend it though your timing will need to be very very right - it is devastating and stunning!!

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  2. Sorry to know that you abandoned these books. Your comment on Toni Morrison's book - 'a fakey pastiche of Zora Neale Hurston' - made me think. I should read Zora Neale Hurston one of these days. Sorry to know that you didn't like 'The Name of the Rose'. It was more sad for me, because that is one of my favourite books :) His other books are more postmodern (probably because he is a semiotics professor), and so I don't know whether you will like them. Maybe you can try watching the movie version of 'The Name of the Rose'. It has Sean Connery as Brother William and Christian Slater as Adso and it is quite nice, though the book is better.

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  3. Ah too bad! I remember really enjoying Tulipmania but then... I do love books with subtitles and bibliographies and indices and all that :) The dryer the better! heh

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  4. I have heard great things of BELOVED - thanks for the reminder, I should try it.

    Vishy you will love THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, it is GREAT. Also, i like your movie suggestion! Hopefully all the boring stuff will be cut.

    Amy, your blog is always opening my eyes to non-ficiton, but somehow I don't seem to be able to get into it . . but I keep trying x

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  5. I have abandoned a good few books; my reading is for pleasure and enjoyment not an attempt to finish what I start.
    I'm reading The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: I skim the parts where Victor Hugo spirals off into architecture. In the story he is supreme.
    There are many on this site I have not touched but I will try what takes my fancy.

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  6. I totally agree on giving up on books! Some people don't do it, which I just don't understand. Why waste your reading life?

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