Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Literary Skeletons In The Closet

As a serious reader, I've got a few literary skeletons in my closet. I'm not proud of them. These skeletons are the "great books" I either:

a) haven't read and am kidding myself into thinking that I will read someday;
b) haven't read yet but actually might; and
c) have tried to read and stopped (some of them more than once).

Rather than provide an exhaustive list, I'll just give a few of the more egregious examples.

In category a), there's Faulkner. Yes, I know. He's great. Or so everybody tells me. I've heard about The Sound and the Fury, etc. I have an inkling how he writes, and it's the style that I'm not interested in. Maybe I'm not giving him a fair shake. Practically speaking, there are an infinite number of books already produced or that will be produced that I want or will want to read, so he keeps getting relegated to the back of the line. But still, every time someone brings up Faulkner in conversation, I feel compelled to explain that yes, I'm going to get to him someday, even though I probably won't. Sorry, Will. Loved your adaptation of Chandler's The Big Sleep.

Category b) is just as bad. We've got: Thoreau, Heller, Huxley, Vidal, Henry James, Proust, Emerson, Pynchon, Dos Passos, Sartre, and several more. Looking at the list is exhausting and a bit overwhelming.

Category c) is appalling. I'm a huge fan of Heart of Darkness, but I've never been able to finish Conrad's Nostromo. Then there's James Joyce, who many consider to be the greatest Modernist writer ever. I love his short stories, but I put Finnegan's Wake in the unreadable category. Thankfully, I'm not alone in that opinion. And I've tried, oh I've tried, with Ulysses but to no avail.

There are plenty of other examples of my skeletons, but I have to stop here. This was painful enough.


Jenna said...

Ah yes. If this what counts as skeletons in the closet, I think I might have some for the first time in my life! My most glaring example falls into category c - have tried to read and stopped. Gone With the Wind. There, its out. I can't count how many times. All I know is that each time I try to pick it up, I find countless bookmarks marking my numerous failures to complete what I know is an amazing novel. I'm supposed to feel better for having gotten that off my chest, right?

Brian O'Rourke said...

You and me both, wifey. I'm always impressed by the writing in Gone With the Wind, but I never get much deeper than twenty pages in. And just thought of another--My Antonia. God this list is bigger than I thought.