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Stretching Patience

Musing Mondays2

This week’s question:

What was the last book you could not finish and why?

I know life is too short for underwhelming book but I usually finish what I started. The one book that came so close to not being finished this year is London Fields by Martin Amis. I lost interest about two-thirds of the way and I just skimmed through it so that I didn’t miss anything important. I have the sense that Amis may have been too clever in outwitting himself. It opens brilliantly with this pre-announced whodunnit without a motive. But from there, despite his lyricality and ingenious monologue, the entire book is a con-trick that leads you to expect one thing, and offers you another. At times the authorial voice is too intrusive, screaming pretentiousness and undermining the characters. I admire his wit, the prodigious span of diction, but he needs more substance and less of this intrusive style. I’m disappointed at this tome of a book that is entirely an elaborate tease. It’s just another meditation for the way the world ends wrapped in a quasi-love story that turns out to be an unresolved mess.

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9 Responses

  1. I really wonder what is the point of finishing a book that is not working for me. Maybe I will put it aside and try it another time..or not.
    but life is short and there are so, so many books!

  2. Considering that these days, I read about 30 pages a day IF I’M LUCKY, you’d think I’d ditch one that didn’t grab me quickly. But I don’t. I just torture myself. Because there have been times when the dogged determination does pay off. Problem is that doesn’t happen often.

  3. I hate when I feel unable to finish a book. I always feel that I should finish each book I start but I try to balance that against the idea that I only have so much time so why read something that is making me miserable? I’ve gotten better about giving myself permission to abandon a book but just barely!

  4. I used to have a ” finish at all costs” approach to reading , but not anymore. http://daystarz.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/musing-mondays-dec-10/

  5. Given all the praise and prizes heaped on David Foster Wallace, I confess I found I could not finish “Infinite Jest” or “Pale King”. I’ll stick to Faulkner, Updike, Philip and Roth and my new “find”, Richard Ford.

  6. I couldn’t read Wolf Hall which was a surprise & disappointment. I found it written strangely as in I could not tell who was speaking during dialogue. I looked at reviews on amazon and found that many people had the same problem as myself. I persevered around 80 pages until frustration got the better of me.

    • If I said I don’t like California ‘cos it’s cold and it’s damp you might say it takes all sorts to make a world. For my particular mind-set, the challenge of working out who is speaking (Thomas Cromwell) was part of the pleasure of “Wolf Hall” and it’s sequel “Bring up the Bodies” which Matt has in his in-tray. My view is that there are so many books out there that, like contemporary art, if I don’t like something early on then I move on to something else.

  7. I am less patient with books these days than I once was. It is usually boredom that pushes me over the edge into the did not finish category. Sometimes it is bad writing. The last book I could not finish was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I imagine had I continued farther than I did, the book may have become more interesting. But truth be told, I wasn’t interested enough to take the time to find out.

  8. Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher. About halfway through, I just couldn’t stand how stereotypical many of the characters were. It felt so out of step with what King normally does that I couldn’t finish it.

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