Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Books you just couldn't get through . . .

What books have you started to read in good faith, highly recommended by friends, reviewers, your gran, your dog, everyone, that you just couldn't finish.

Me?  'The Cold Six Thousand' by James Ellroy.  Much as I willed myself to finish each page, I just found it too exhausting.  It was like my brain was filling in every missing word.  And in a book where the average length of a sentence seemed to be about three words - that is a lot of missing words. I loved the premise of the book and the plot and the characters, and I could see the cleverness of what Ellroy was doing, but I just couldn't make it.  Page 60.  That's all I got to.

So what are your reading nightmares?

Come on.  Don't be ashamed.  All are welcome here :)

13 comments:

  1. The Woman with the Dragon Tattoo. I know. I'm sorry. Everyone was reading it and I did not like it.

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  2. No need to be sorry, Michelle. Just take a deep breath, hold your head up high, and know you are a better person for the doing of it :)

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  3. Oh dear Lord there are a shed load. Most of them on my lit degree's reading list, although I somehow blagged a 2:1. But notably:most of Dickens & all of Hardy except 'Tess ...' which is sublime. My bad, I know...

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  4. Pretty much anything written before the 20th Century. In fact I wouldn't even bother now. I struggled with the Cold 6000 but I made it to the end.I

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  5. With you on the Hardy, Sue. Jude the Obscure was just too shit. I am acutely aware after that last comment, and finding nothing adequate to express my frustration to replace it with, I need to brush up on my review technique. But, you know, it really was a bag of shit.

    But Dickens, Sue? Great Expectations? David Copperfield? I can't agree with you on that one, and were it a hundred years ago I would indeed meet you on the wide expanse of the back lawn, duelling sabre in hand, to argue the point. I know his characters are made of the inferior cardboard of a Weetabix packet, and his women are all angelic and pure, and the books are all too long and the underlying plots a mite similar, but that man could describe a door handle like no other. And just the invention of Uriah Heep is worth the entrance fee alone.

    I digress. The kettle is calling me, and another coffee awaits :)

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  6. Nothing before the 20th Cent, Paul? Those Russians knew how to tell a tale. Dostoyevsky, Chekov, Tolstoy. And Victor Hugo? Les Miserables - the life and times of a dour northern comedian? Brilliant.

    Must admit, though, mate, I'm a bit stuck in the oldies. Have made a conscious effort this year to read more modern stuff, and the more I read, the more I think I've missed out all these years. Done the whole Hemingway catalogue, half of Orwell, Graham Greene. All amazing. And having recently discovered Chandler, I reckon he should be up there amongst the very best.

    One of the modules of the course is 20th Cent. Lit., so I'll be looking forward to that one :)

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  7. That's why I said 'pretty much' ...all for Dickens, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Wilde, Chekov, Zola.In small amounts.

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  8. Those Russians have got noir running right through their veins, mate. Haven't read Zola, but he's on me list. And back in the 18th cent. with Laurence Sterne. Proper nutter. The Life and Times of Tristram Shandy is one of the most bonkers books I've ever read. Must have been the fact they was all still drinking beer instead of water in them days. Brilliant :)

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  9. Can't get through James Lee Burke's 'The Glass Rainbow.' It's just too . . . tedious. And speaking of the oldies (but not necessarily the goodies) I could do without Dostovesky. Again, enough with the introspective 'Oh, the world is too dark of a place to live in!' kind of horseshit. But then. . . that's just me.

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  10. A modern American classic did me in. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Many people I know love it,including my boss. It's her favorite book. But the logic of the whole thing just made my head hurt.

    I also couldn't make it through For Whom the Bell Tolls. The dialogue did me in there. It reads, to me, at least like translated Spanish. The sentence structure is too formal and a little out of order. I tried reading it just after I graduated from college and am thinking I should give it another chance.

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  11. Hi, BR. When I read the Spinetingler review of Glass Rainbow the other day, I was immediately put off by the term 'gorgeous prose'. Whenever I see that phrase, it reminds me of a review I once read of Atonement by Ian McKewan. I couldn't get past the first couple of pages. Bored me senseless, 'gorgeous prose' and all.

    As for Dostoyevsky. Love it to bits. The Idiot is right up there in my top three novels ever. Genius. I reckon, anyway :)

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  12. Hi Jarrett. Catch-22 and For Whom the Bell Tolls? I can see how the dialogue in FWTBT comes across as a bit formal, and it is. Took me a couple of tries to get to the end of that one, but once I'd got there, the whole thing sort of fell into place. I reckon Hemingway takes a bit of getting used to anyway. After having trouble with FWTBT, I got hold of a copy of Hemingway's short stories. Once I'd become accustomed to his style, I had another bash at the book, and loved it to bits.

    As for Catch-22, killed myself laughing from start to finish, and only at the end did I realise what a sad, sad story it was, you know, the depths of it all. Another one up in my top half-dozen. The way to approach it is not from a logical standpoint, just jump right into the madness of it all. Drown in it. Don't make sense of it. Just try to keep your head above water and see it out. It'll be well worth the ride.

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  13. Ha. Im luaghing at Paul's comment. ;-) I actaully just had to put down Phillip K Dick's "Flow My Tears, The Police Man Said." Man, just couldnt get past the adverbly adverbs. It's like the plot was cool, but the way he described things drove me nuts!

    ps. And Ian- I loved Atonement! Just geos to show we have all have different preferences.

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