Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lunchtime Poll

As Mary noted below, I'm in the thick of diss proposal writing. So - late for work and lacking the time for a proper review - here's my stab at Internet Meme Immortality (tm), in which I rely upon you, Dear Reader, to write this post for me. But I was thinking about this last night as I browsed the shelves at the local megabookstore and literature emporium:*

If you could change one thing about your reading habits, what would it be?

I ask because I had this horrible realization last night that I have almost zero interest in reading quote-unquote Literary novels. I blame the Iowa Creative Writing Workshop for most of this, perhaps unfairly, but there you go. I used to love the modern American novel, but lately I'm tired of the small victories of soul-deadened suburbanites and would much rather read something where, I dunno, stuff happens.

(This also probably has something to do with the heroin-like pulp habit I've picked up since moving to L.A.)

Anyways: comment, forward, link, discuss.

EDIT: Mary tells me I shouldn't blame Iowa for my issues with contemporary American fiction. Poetry, sure, but not prose.


*Yes, yes, shame on me, but they were open, and my fave mom and pop stores weren't.


Gwen said...

I wish I could get better at abandoning a book I'm not enjoying. Once I've started a book I have a really, really hard time not finishing it--I feel this terrible guilt for some reason. And so I will spend weeks trying to finish a 500-page book that I find horribly boring for the simple reason that I started it and now feel obliged to finish.

I have made a little progress on this issue lately. I got partway through John Dos Passos' "America" trilogy and realized that while I didn't hate it, I didn't particularly love it, and that given it's 1200 pages or so total, and that I couldn't imagine my life being hugely enriched by finishing it, I should seriously consider whether it was worth the investment of time to read the whole thing. And so I decided not to. It was hugely liberating to just say "Yes, I started this book, but I am not writing a report on it and thus have no obligation to finish it. Thus, I shall not."

I know that seems totally obvious, but it really causes me stress and anxiety to put down a book mid-read. This is a triumph for me.

Sally J. said...

Less reading on the interwebs, more book reading.

P.S. Hi Gwen. Nancy Pearl of Librarian Action Figure fame says it's OK to abandon mid-book. She even invented a formula, which helped this blogger quit without guilt:

Larry said...

After many years, especially in my childhood, when I read anything and everything, I feel no guilt in abandoning books. I do it all the time. In fact, I save time by abandoning them before I even open them, which is probably the most efficient method of all.

I've abandoned entire genres: "true crime," science fiction, Harlequin romances, that awful (and prolific--why are bad writers always the prolific ones?) writer of Westerns whose characters had lots of "spine." (No, not John Jakes. Some other awful Western writer).

Oh hell, I remembered his name: Louis L'Amour.

Larry said...

OK, here's some authentic Louis L'Amour:

"Mister," I said, "if you ain't any slicker with that pistol than you were with that bottom deal, you'd better not have at it." Trouble was, he wouldn't be content with one mistake, he had to make two; so he had at it, and they buried him out west of town where men were buried who die by the gun.

It only gets worse:

Larry said...

Good Lord, I've fallen into the White Rabbit's hole of bad writing:

General Grant never counted ca'tridges on me, but he was a man who noticed. One time he stopped close by when I was keeping three Rebel guns out of action, picking off gunners like a 'possum picking hazelnuts, and he stood by, a-watching.

Brady said...

Like possums pick hazelnuts...they only like cashews. Sheesh.

Gwen said...

When I was a kid I used to read Louis L'Amour books all the time because he was one of the few writers my family members would read. I think they're basically Harlequin romances for men--all the same basic storyline so you know more or less what will happen before you read the first sentence.

Then one day in my teens I was like "You know what? These suck." And that was that, until my sister gave me a collection of his short stories a couple of years ago--I promptly donated them to Goodwill.

But, you know, if you're into romanticizing the noble--but tragically doomed--savage, men with rifles, and annoying attempts at "authentic" Western or Southern speech, L'Amour is your man.

Larry said...

I think Louis L'Amour is the only author who uses "ain't" and a semicolon in the same paragraph. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

Brady said...

Er...I do that. But I come by it honest; it ain't like I'm doin' it on purpose.

Now if y'all will excuse me, I've got some papers I'm fixin to grade, and I might could go for another cup of coffee. Or some boiled peanuts.