Thursday, February 08, 2007

Books I Didn't Finish

(I was going through my notes just now and I came across a review of a book I didn't enjoy. And it made me think about the other books I've read that I didn't manage to finish. It made me want to write the following, in the voice of the character I'm writing about, called...)

Books I Didn't Finish

(Written in the voice of a character I'm writing about at the moment.)

I'm a man that does what his Mum tells him. If I should eat my greens then I eat my greens. If I should exercise three times a week then I exercise three times a week. If it's bad to drink too much beer, then I don't. So when I start to read a book I finish it. I don't skip the boring chapters; I don't read the first page and then the last page; I don't turn over page after descriptive prose page - I read word after succulent word.

There was a time, though, when I didn't finish my book. (Shhh.)

I started reading Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. Now I'm interested in maths and astronomy so I was bound to enjoy this book, especially as everyone raved about The Name of the Rose (much better than the film, as ever). Well I found it to be filled with turgid text, that my little mind could simply not penetrate. I could only manage 100 pages, which is much worse than Paula Radcliffe did in Athens Olympic marathon for women, that's for sure.

The trouble with quitting, as Paula can no doubt tell you, is that it sets a precedent, though.

And it wasn't long before I had not read another book then another. The books listed below are just the books I couldn't finish in the last few years. I have nothing against the writers of these books, except I couldn't finish what you'd started. These books failed me as a reader; or did I fail them as a reader, I'm really not sure? In no particular order:
  • White Teeth - Zadie Smith
    Clever. Inventive. About London. But after half-way through the novel I found that I really didn't care about the characters; I was bored. There must be something less boring instead that I can do, or read, I thought to myself. So I put the book down.
  • The History of Love - Nicole Krauss
    Even cleverer and more inventive than White Teeth. Still, half-way through, I was getting puzzled by the change in points of view, and I really didn't care about the world that was being painted for me.
  • Where Did It All Go Right? - Andrew Collins
    A happy autobiography type of book. And what's wrong with that? Nothing, except I found this book to be both smug and dull. (Good job I'm writing this in character, isn't it.) It's a shame, really, because I do believe that happy stories can make interesting stories, but this is not the book to read to prove it. (Interestingly, if you read Andrew's blog, you'll see that his Wimbledon-green lawn looks to have come over all Blue Velvet perhaps. I'm talking about the fact that he's even considering the truth (or otherwise) of the 9/11 conspiracy theories.)
The following books were recommended to me by people who thought it would help my writing. In some cases I read most of the book, but others I couldn't even face opening it in the first place. Blimey!
  • London Fields - Martin Amis
    Far too clever, and far too well-written to provide any semblance of inspiration to me.
  • Books by Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons.
    Not me. Aggravatingly so. I didn't even make 20 pages of Man and Boy.
  • A Multitude of Sins - Richard Forde
    I don't like short stories, and I didn't like how the author treated the subject matter. Good stuff like fidelity, feelings, betrayal, relationships - it just didn't sit well with me. I read most of the short stories then gave it to a person who likes reading short stories. Is that okay, Richard?
I forget what other clever stuff I was going to write here about books I haven't finished as this is my second version of this piece. Of course the first version was much better than the above, frustratingly so. I lost the first to the foibles of writing a blog at Blogger online. (Yes, I swore for several moments. And I'm still angry about it. As it says at the end of those classic Buffy episodes: "Grrr. Aaargh!". Exactly.


Okay. Time to do some work. I will let my character swear at one more time,"F***** B****x!" and get on with doing it, then.

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