56% of the way through Anne Rivers Siddons’ Homeplace I realized that I really don’t care what happens to any of these characters anymore. I found I was not convinced of their motivations for doing what they did, I was not in sympathy with their flaws and foibles, and I just plain didn’t like any of them. I wasn’t even given those characters you love to hate, I just didn’t give a flip about these people and whether they lived or died.
The book started out well. In fact it was very similar in style and plot to another Siddons book I thoroughly enjoyed, Heartbreak Hotel. The two heroines were very similar. Their involvement in the exploding Civil Rights Movement in the South were identical to each other. I found myself looking forward to another Heartbreak Hotel. Then the story veered. The heroine’s appeal rapidly diminished. Her return home made little sense and her decision to stay home made even less. To add salt into an already bland wound the supporting cast is annoying at the best of times; the characters coming across as either cloying, cardboard, or corrosive.
So I am abandoning this book at the 56% point. I gave it a better chance than it deserved. My ground rules for the Journey of 100 Books said I would give a book at least 25% before abandoning it if it turned out to be disappointment so I am well within my guidelines.
So what next….
Next, since we are just a couple of weeks away from Halloween I am diving into Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, the story of Halloween arriving a week early in a small Ohio town.
© 2014 M. Romeo LaFlamme
The next two reads on my Journey of 100 Books will probably prove to be quite different from each other. One is to entertain me. The other is to make me think. That’s my usual pattern for reading.
For entertainment I am diving into Homeplace by Anne Rivers Siddons. So far I’ve read two books by Siddons that I liked (Heartbreak Hotel and The House Next Door) and one I absolutely could not drag myself through (Fox’s Earth). So far the balance is in her favor. Until the balance tips I’ll keep reading her.
For the thought provoking side I’m taking up Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton. Thom is deep. He was a Trappist monk until his untimely death. He is also controversial in Catholic circles mostly because of how much he draws from Eastern religion later in his career. Thom makes me think. He makes me think about my inner self and, as the staunch social commentator that he was, he makes me think about the world around me, and how the two are inextricably woven together. I have of late been considering the depth, or perhaps the shallowness, of my own interior life and Merton is always good about showing sides of myself to which I may be prone to turn a blind eye.
These next two steps in the Journey of 100 Books will be interesting. I’m already getting the itch whenever I drive by a bookstore or yard sale. I’ve fallen off the wagon once and blamed it on a special occasion. I am determined to get through my 100 books already owned before buying more.
Here’s to the next fork in the road.
Shogun was not at all what I expected and in this case it was a pleasant surprise. I went into it expecting a swashbuckling adventure full of western attempts to colonize the East, lots of sword and gun fighting as the conquering westerners came to civilize and bring order to a heathen and pagan land. The book turned out to be nothing of the sort. Continue reading
I had once gotten it into my head that I wanted to be a Benedictine Oblate. I felt this after being swept up by the romance of Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk. I dove in. I found a monastery in Indiana that took long distance oblates and began my investiture. Basically I was supposed to pray daily, read as much of The Liturgy of the Hours as I could fit into my normal life and read prescribed selections from the The Rule of Saint Benedict each day.
It didn’t take me long to discover that I was not, never had been, and never would be that disciplined. Continue reading
The Artist’s Way, while it contains some gems, is an overall disappointment. I’ve started it several times and it took me this fourth time to get all the way through. I had previously blamed my inability to finish it more on myself than on the work in general. The book taken as a whole comes across as pop psychology mixed with a heavy dose of New Age philosophy. There is a lot of talk about nurturing the inner child that is our real artist, the child’s inability to accept raw criticism and how this creates emotional scar tissue. The inner artist child needs to be protected and nurtured and needs to have its hand held and be tenderly led through the miasma of the psyche of the growing artist. She even goes so far as to equate poorly delivered criticism to sexual abuse, and projects that don’t materialize to miscarriages from which the artist suffers as much as the woman who lost a child. That was where she lost me for good. Continue reading
As I draw close to the end of Shogun with 430 pages of the 1210 to go I’ve been pondering the joy of the epic length novel. While books of every length have found a place on my list of favorites, from the brief but entertaining The Little Prince and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, to Diana Gabaldon’s multi volume Outlander Saga, the journey with an epic length novel ranks as one of my favorite reading experiences.
It takes a talented author to be able to hold a reader’s attention though 1000 pages of narrative; to create characters and scenarios that keep a reader flipping yet another page and coming back sometimes for weeks to find out what is going to happen next.
My attraction to the epic novel started when I surreptitiously read one of my mother’s “bodice rippers.” It was The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I won’t deny that at fifteen I was intrigued by the unbridled and very descriptive sex. Continue reading
I have never been one to read only one book at a time. I usually have at least two, often three books going at once. While I have been fairly dedicated to getting through Shogun lately I have been thumbing through a few other volumes that I keep by my reading chair. These are usually books on spirituality or motivation, poetry collections or theology.
One book that I’ve pulled off the shelf to start again is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is a book about unblocking creativity. For those new to me I am a writer, or rather, a would-be writer. I do, however, carry a lot of baggage from the life behind me; Continue reading