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Midweek Musings: To Read or Not to Read
: On book abandonment :
Is there anything more disappointing than investing time in a book only for it to be a complete letdown? I’ve done it twice in the past week.
While perusing a bookstore recently (which did have chairs, btw), I happened upon D (a Tale of Two Worlds) by Michael Faber. The blurb appealed to me, and it had the potential to be a great fantasy story with an undercurrent of social injustices and moral issues. Nope.
While Faber attempted to bring awareness to topics such as racism, orphans, refugees, diversity, and inclusion, he never quite got there. Instead, the story seemed built around the author’s poorly veiled distaste for Donald Trump via an obnoxious character called “The Gamp”—the fantasy world’s pompous, red-faced dictator with a blonde wig that falls into his eyes. I mean, I’m not a Trump fan, but the obvious hit detracted from an opportunity to illuminate the ill-effects of showboating and the unending attempts by political pundits to incite hostility and division.
The story had elements that could have drawn the reader in and served as a charming vehicle to educate. Hints of Narnia, Alice, and even The Mysterious Benedict Society (probably not all intentional) were underdeveloped and shadowed by political agenda. I closed the book about 3/4 through because my dad once suggested, “Life’s too short to read lousy books.”
On that same trip to the bookstore, a bookseller suggested a short horror novel I normally would not have chosen. I’m fairly open-minded when it comes to literature. I studied many forms in college, and some favorites turned out to be works I would not have read were they not required.I understand what magic can happen when you step outside your comfort zone.
So I suffered through the full length of Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth. Another flop. Awful. The dialogue read like something overheard in a high school cafeteria, and about every tenth word was some version of f**k.The “horror” was more confusing than frightening, and the plot was simply underdeveloped. Nothing redeeming here except the use of Japanese culture (it was set in a haunted mansion in Japan), which educated me a bit but only because I looked up unfamiliar words.
Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens is another book I gave myself permission to stop reading. I had so many people tell me, “If you can make it through about 2/3 then it gets really good.” But is a good ending really worth reading the snooze fest that precedes it it?
So now that I’ve blathered on about books I can’t recommend, I’m interested to know how you feel. Do you make yourself finish every book you begin?
Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick; The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams; The Awakening and Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin; The Wife of His Youth by Charles Chesnutt; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer; Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole; The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro…just to name a few.
While I did not grow up around sailors, I don’t think even they would approve of such a careless heaving of the word.