Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Update: Recent Disappointments


I haven't updated my reading lately. When I have a chance to blog I seem to have fun pictures, recipes, embroidery, or general whining to write about and books get pushed to the side. I am still reading voraciously, but writing book reviews of everything seems to zap all the fun out of reading. Perhaps it is the effect of writing too many "response" papers in college paired with the plethora of book reviewers/sites.

However, there are times when I feel that I have a civic duty to blog about bad books. Especially those deceptive books that "look" like they will be good and then end up being duds. Two such books have crossed my path in August. I go through a gamut of emotions when I'm trying to make myself "stick it out" and read a poor book: denial, sadness, loneliness, disbelief, and, at last anger. When I put down a bad book (or pitch it across the room) it takes me awhile to find a new book. Nerd baggage does affect one's relationship with future books.

I feel compelled to warn you beloved readers about two books that sucked. In each book I stuck it out at least 100 pages and then I pitched them back into the library book-drop from whence it came.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. This one looks good: a lonely, but well-established, man (Ralph) places an ad for a wife. The "reliable" wife (Catherine) he gets is a schemer who plans to poison Ralph and take his money. The problems with this book are twofold 1). the writing style can be filed under "pretentious drivel" and 2). there is so much stupid sex (not stupid like "I made a poor decision in sleeping with that jerk", rather stupid detailed scenarios.).

I image Goolrick writing each sentence and patting himself on the back for being oh-so-clever. There are many sentences about deep secret yearnings and throbbings and the nasty things adults do in the night. I'm sure that Goolrick is trying to express Victorian repression, but sometimes looking at a lit window doesn't remind one of crazed humpings. This merges nicely into my problem with the stupid sex. Sex was slapping me in the face at every turn, so much so that every tryst was as exciting as a pelvic exam. I finally shut the book when I reached a sentence describing Catherine's lover as sleeping with his fingers inside her. Seriously. She slept all night with a finger in her cooch. What kind of sleeping is that. Oh, and then he licked the mustiness off his fingers in the morning. Can I getta "eww"?

The second sucky book I read was The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte by James Tully. This one wasn't nearly as sucky as A Reliable Wife. The novel has an interesting premise, it investigates the "secret" life of the Bronte sisters and pegs Charlotte Bronte as a nefarious woman. Now, my problem isn't with the ridiculous accusations of plagiarism, sex, murder, and illegitimacy. I can/ was willing to go along for the ride, after all, there are is enough room for speculation when it comes to the private and sequestered Bronte brood. My issue was with the writing.

The story is told by a maid, Martha Brown, at Haworth Parsonage. However, Martha is incredibly literate, stumbles upon too many important letters/papers/conversations/gropings, and she is AMAZINGLY perceptive and able to psychoanalyze everything. She is also telling this story after many years and is able to piece together knowledge she had as a girl with new knowledge gained as an adult and fill in gaps accordingly. As a result, the novel moves too quickly, especially to be mimicking Victorian writing. The characters are not developed and the plot rushes. *Boom* Branwell is dead. *Boom* Emily is dead. *Boom* Anne is sick. With a finer novelist, for example Sarah Waters would have done excellently, this book would have been engrossing.

So to abate all this book disappointment, I have a fresh stack of reads: Disquiet by Julia Leigh is my current read, but this slim novella will be finished by this afternoon. I say another trip to the library is in order!

1 comment:

Eli said...

Hello! I'm writing to let you know that you have been nominated for a Book Blogger Appreciation Week Award for Most Eclectic Taste. Please email me ASAP at elischulenburg@gmail.com for more information on your nomination. (FYI - the deadline is Friday, August 21.) Congratulations!