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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:23 am    Post subject: Unfinished books  Reply with quote

A new thread for anyone who wants to rant or simply register that they have decided not to finish a book!

I have just abandoned The Nowhere City by Alison Lurie - I took it to read on a train journey, as my current hardback read was too bulky to take with me.  It is set in California, written in 1965, about a couple who have moved there from New England, much against the wishes of the wife, who is the most irritating character I have had the displeasure to read about in a very long time.  She is the main reason I have given up, but the whole thing just seemed tired and irritating - one of those 'couldn't care less about any of these people and their silly lives' experiences for me.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2912


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not counting Janet Evanovich's Plum Lucky which was just drivel and bored me, the last book I didn't finish was Kath Trevelyan by Jeremy Cooper.  I see it praised in an Independent review, though there is mention of over-fastidiousness writing, which is perhaps what I disliked.  (I was wondering what word I could use that wasn't pretentious and fastidious will do fine.) Full of art talk and artists (did mention a NZ artist which may me take some notice) and too much erudite discussion and not enough novel somehow.  It was very slow and deliberate and I couldn't get really interested in it.  I didn't think it was going to change or even develop much, so in the end I just stopped reading it.  

I haven't regretted that, though perhaps I regret a little my deficiencies as a reader that doesn't allow me to appreciate a book like that.  I would be interested in the comments of anyone else who has read this.  

Cheers, Caro.


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 724



PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did mention Ben Okri's 'Astonishing the Gods' a few weeks back as a book that I abandoned very rapidly. It seemed full of poetic phrases expressing very little, but couched in such portentous terms that it was clear that the writer intended us to regard them as deep and meaningful insights. I'm afraid it didn't engage me at all: I read a little of  it when I was away from home with very few other books to read, but once I could lay my hands on an alternative, this went back on the 'donate to a charity shop' pile!


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris, I felt exactly the same way about Ben Okri's The Famished Road, of which I read about 20 pages before giving up - definitely reached 'Throw across room' on the Evieometer, for just the reasons you give about this one.  I even hesitated to give it to the charity shop, as I didn't want to inflict it on anyone else!


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2912


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh dear - I have put this on display at our library - should I take it down? No one has been tempted by it in the last couple of weeks.  I thought Okri was well thought of.  I haven't read him myself.

Cheers, Caro.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have stopped reading The Shadow of the Wind, but I had to finish it because it was a Book Group read. And I can't even give it to a charity shop because there are obscenities scrawled in the margin.


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Billy the Fish



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 41


Location: Gateshead, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am shocked and appalled. Why not finish a book?! Show some respect, damnation!

I must confess, though, two books I failed to finish at Uni - Burgers Daughter by Nadine Gordimer, and (shamefully, as it's so short) The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, I recently inflicted on the book group I go to so I would be forced to actually finish them. I have never attempted any more Pynchon, but have got successfully through The House Gun and July's People by Gordimer, so I suspect the problem may be more mine than hers.....


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to finish every book assiduously, but haven't done so for years - I might persevere if I feel there is something worthwhile going on, but life is too short to read books that have nothing to offer!

Caro - Ben Okri is indeed well thought of, and a friend of mine thinks Famished Road is one of the best books she has ever read, but to my mind it's all a bit Emperor's clothes, rather like Paulo Coelho (I did manage to finish The Bloody Alchemist, but only because it was for my book group, and it was also short, with The Famished Road isn't!).


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Joe Mac
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently tossed (metaphorically) 'The Shack', by William Young across the room, and didn't miss the garbage can by much.
It had come highly recommended by one friend, who now may not be a friend after I told him what I thought of it.
Well, it may not be crap, but it sure is third-rate writing. I don't care how fabulous the pay-off is if I have to wade through crapola to get to it.

Another was 'One Hundred Years of Solitude', which was not badly written, but which failed utterly (well, the failure could have been mine) to engage me. After a couple hundred page I realized I did not care about any of the characters or what happened to them, so I chucked it.


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Jen M



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 596


Location: Middlesex, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also struggled with, but finished Shadow of the Wind for my book group.  But I had to give up on The Historian (Elizabeth Kostova) because the story didn't engage me and I didn't care about the characters and A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (Xiaolou Guo) which seemed so promising at first, with much potential for misunderstandings due to the language barrier between the lovers, but which just turned into an excuse to describe the chinese girl's unpleasant sexual encounters.

One which I gave up on but might go back to is Emperor: Death of Kings by Conn Iggulden, which was very long.

I don't often give up on books and am usually glad to have persevered.




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