Mighty Red Pen

April 19, 2009

A race to the finish line

Filed under: Lit review — mighty red pen @ 7:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

Monday, April 20 is the day we have a little race around these parts called the Boston Marathon. In honor of those who will make it to the finish line, I’m sharing a couple on instances where MRP did not.

You may have heard that MRP is about 35 pages into Updike’s Rabbit, Run and I’m already considering abandoning it for something else a little less, er, smugly self-satisfied with its own literary prowess. Having said that, I have to say that I hate to put a book down once I’ve started it, it’s my own little thing. However, here are three that defeated me:

1. Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. After 50 pages, I just couldn’t go on. The characters were so vapid. I did, however, usefully learn the difference between naked (you have no clothes on) and nekkid (you have no clothes on and are up to no good), which I have carried with me since then.

2. Vanity Fair, by Thackeray. I wanted to read this because I grew up near Thackeray Road and also it may have been on some list of “Great Books” or something. But eventually the, er, vanity just got to me.

3. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. I DID ACTUALLY READ THIS ENTIRE BOOK BUT I FOUND THE ALL CAPS THING SO ANNOYING THAT I WISHED I HAD JUST PUT IT DOWN.

So I put this to you, readers: what’s a book you’ve put down before finishing because you just couldn’t stand to get to the end? And why?

4 Comments »

  1. James Joyce’s Ulysses.

    Best English novel of the 20th century? Yeesh.

    It makes a nice bookend, though.

    Comment by zooinajungle — April 23, 2009 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  2. Because I am slightly obsessive when it comes to reading, I always finish books once I start them. However, there are two books that I should have put down– A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. The inanity contained in those two books is absolutely astounding. Although I do not remember the plot lines (if any existed) I do recall the sheer boredom that resulted from reading those books.

    Comment by krista — April 25, 2009 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  3. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, even though it was the favourite novel of my then-girlfriend; The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, which goes on for bloody ever; and yes, both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, although I was still a teenager when I tried to tackle the former so maybe I should give it another go.

    I must say I enjoyed A Portrait of the Artist though.

    Comment by JD (The Engine Room) — April 26, 2009 @ 7:16 am | Reply

  4. I’m finding it difficult to think of one. Occasionally I bail out after reading a page or two of a book because it doesn’t appeal at the time, but I don’t rule out reading it some other time. I should have abandoned Schopenhauer’s Telescope instead of persevering with it.

    Not only did I not finish Vanity Fair, I never even started it; it gathers dust in the Corner of Guilt. Infinite Jest was a great read but I wouldn’t blame anyone for not finishing it. As for Ulysses, I don’t think I’d have managed it in my teens, but I read it only last year and loved every long minute of it.

    Comment by Stan — April 28, 2009 @ 2:37 pm | Reply


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