Saturday, August 29, 2009

Closing The Book

I love to read. There was a day when I forced myself to finish every book I picked up, even if it was bad. I wanted to give it a chance to redeem itself. Now that I'm working so many hours, I require more from my leisure activity.
Reading is an escape for me, so I rarely pick up a horror book or thriller. I want something that will end well even if it drags me through emotional furrows on the way there.
I have two books that I began recently and will not finish. The first one got good reviews and that's why I started it. How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely promised a romp through the pages. "I was turning the pages so fast they nearly burst into flames," The Brooklyn Alternative raved on the book's front cover. I suspect the pages nearly burst into flames for other reasons.
To me, it seemed totally predictable. Here's Pete, an ivy league guy who has a fringe job and hasn't made the most of his potential. He lives with a roommate and doesn't keep up on his hygiene. He scoffs at his former classmates who are actually successful and making money. Of course, he will find a way to make a ton of money too by playing the system. Yawn. I put it down while he was sitting on the couch next to his roommate watching their favorite TV journalist interview an author. I think the next page or the next chapter will lead to his "Eureka" moment -- a way to write a best-selling novel that will bring him back the girlfriend he lost in college. I can't spoil it for you though, because I didn't make it that far.
The other book I won't finish is While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty. Veronica is a junior in college when she finds out her parents are divorcing because her mother cheated. Veronica has declared herself premed, even though she's really bad at it. This puzzled me. Here's college with a thousand choices and she's stressed out because she can't focus on the parts of a dog shark for a dissection. What she's really looking forward to is housesitting for an acquaintance and driving his car. She drops him at the airport, and an ice storm starts immediately, before she pulls from the airport parking lot. Surprise! She wrecks the car on the highway. When she realizes no police officers will be coming for awhile because of all the accidents, Veronica gets out and begins walking. An 18-wheeler stops for her, and, against her better judgment, she gets in. The driver misses her exit. And the exit after! Duh, duh, duh, duh. (That's the sinister music.) I look at the book and see how much of it is left. A lot. Is she going to be captured by the crazed truck driver for the rest of the book, I wonder. No, for some strange reason, he wasn't a really bad kidnapper. He stops at the next turnpike plaza and lets her out. She forgot her cell phone and has no money.
When she finally gets back to her dorm, a friend drives her to the house where she is housesitting so she can water the plants. They decide to start drinking. Another stellar decision on her part. "I cannot fairly blame the decisions I made for the rest of that evening on alcohol," Veronica says (111). Apparently, she invited a lot of friends and non-friends over to trash the place. That's when I put the book down. I can't stand watching characters make such ridiculous choices.
Now I'm afraid to pick up another book. Any suggestions?


Sheila said...

I'm really enjoying: Eve, a novel of the first woman by Elissa Elliott. It's the story of Eve, how she was pushed out of the Garden of Eden and her subsequent life with Adam and her children. Eve's story focuses on her feelings on being abandoned by Elohim. While the rest of the characters show how they deal with the struggles of a wild land that they need to tame to survive and prosper. I don't really read chick lit (unless it's from my favorite undiscovered author) so I can't recommend anything from that genre.

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel about expecting a lot from the books you read in your precious spare time. Especially as an aspiring writer, I try not to read anything I would be ashamed to write myself.

Not knowing you or your tastes at all, I'm not sure what to recommend, but Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides was pretty awesome. I just finished Sinouhé, l'Egyptien (I think it's called The Egyptian in English) by Mika Waltari. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but then I've always been fascinated by ancient Egypt, and I do like a good epic. (Like this comment, sorry.) ;)

Linda said...

I used to finish books that I wasn't really enjoying but finally decided not to waste my time. I usually know by the first few pages if I have a keeper.

Anonymous said...

Did you turn 40 over the weekend ?

There is no more time to waste on letting books get good, cookie cutter movies, "friends" you can't be honest with, husbands that ... you know the rest ..... you're there.

I don't think we have the same taste in books, I like memoirs and biographies the most.

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