ABSPB started out with great ambitions. A chronicle of my extensive, ongoing reading list. Then I remembered I read slower than a stoned turtle. So we’re changing it up a bit. Welcome to Friday Failure Book Pile, a chronicle of books started but not finished. This is in no way reflective of the engaging abilities of the books reviewed here (as you’ll see most of the books listed are modern classics, critical and financial successes). This is merely a record of my inability to focus on anything for more than 50 pages. Let the laziness begin!
The real reason I picked up this book in the first place was out of some rebellious fascination. I was raised Presbyterian, so the Dark Prince has held a sort of tantalizing mystique going as far back as I can remember. Don’t get me wrong, I was never into the Ozzy Osbourne, fire and brimstone, Tim-Curry-in-Legend style devil. No, I was more into the Alister Crowley, top hat and tails, Al-Pacino-in-Devil’s-Advocate style of devil. Evil incarnate, the devil made man. So when this book started out with a couple of angels falling out of the sky my mind started to wander pretty quickly. Another reason I don’t think I could have gone all the way with this one is Rushdie’s voice. I love Rushdie’s style, but I feel like he spawned a bajillion mediochre imitators. Just the thought of all those people out there butchering the language in hopes of having an original voice made me sad. So I shelved this one.
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
Sometimes I feel obligated to read books. Like if there’s an author who is considered one of the greatest living American novelests and publishes a book a year and has won countless awards, and then there’s little old me who’s never read sentance one from said author, I feel put-upon to read said author. Like how could you even consider being a fiction writer if you’ve never read Mark Twain, or Nabokov, or Toni Morrision, or J.D. Salinger, or Hemingway, or any of the other giants? This is the guilt that surrounds me when I walk through the book store. And this is the guilt I went into with Philip Roth and The Human Stain. Lemme say this: You should never feel like you have to read a book. Reading novels should be an overwhelmingly pleasurable experience. And if they’re not, they should at least help you wallow in your delicious misery for a little while, offer you a little light in the darkness. I know in my case, if I have to do something, I’m never going to get it done. That’s the reason I never finished this book. And it’s a shame cause it seemed like a pretty good story. I guess I also got a little bored of the real-to-life drama of Roth’s characters. Soemtimes it’s hard to force yourself to read about someone’s crippling problems.
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Sometimes you feel obligated to read a book and sometimes a book thrusts itself upon you, cosmically putting you in a submission hold until you tap out and agree to sit down with it for a few hours. There was about a month period where I kept seeing this book popping up everywhere. Library windows, DVD commentaries, random conversations. This book is speaking to me, I thought, Surely it must contain some well polished aphorism somewhere within its 224 pages that has been traveling across the earth from Chandler’s brain for decades only to find me and bore its way into my being. So I bought the book. I got about a third of the way through it and then watched The Big Sleep (an adaptation of another Phillip Marlow book by Chandler) and I felt like I got a pretty good bead on what Chandler’s al about. So I quit. Don’t judge me.
So that’s a current list of my failures. I know you’re thinking, “You know, you could just pick them up and start reading them again.” And that is true. I could pick them up and start reading again…
I could do a lot of things…