Beginning a new book (reading one, that is; not writing one) is a bit like meeting a new person. It often takes time to form a relationship, and if that relationship is good, then it's really sad when it's all over. But if it takes a lot of time, or the relationship doesn't work out, then that's a different matter, and occasionally, the relationship ends before it should.
I've just done a rather stupid thing. As a reviewer for Amazon Vine, I've foolishly chosen the latest Gerald Seymour. Now, I've enjoyed many (though not all) of his books, he writes very well, and reasearches his subjects so thoroughly that it feels as though he's writing everything from personal experience.
But I do have a problem with his writing. Firstly, he tends to introduce a great many characters at the beginning, so it's easy (for me) to get confused, and he often omits names when he starts a new section, beginning with a personal pronoun rather than a name. For example, he might start a chapter thus: "he lay in the long grass watching them through his binoculors" (I made that up, but that's the kind of thing he does). It can then take several paragraphs for the reader (or this reader) to find out whom he's talking about.
His latest book is long and complicated, and I'm reaching the stage where I'm thinking - only thinking - of ending the relationship. I do my reading at night, when I'm not at my most alert, and I'm finding it quite heavy going. On the other hand, the book is a freebie (albeit an unedited proof freebie), and I feel duty bound to read it (although we only have to review 75% of what we receive). Also, the plot is a promising one, if only I can get my head round what exactly is going on, and who it is that's lying in the long grass.
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
On reading a new book
Posted by Frances Garrood at 16:24
Labels: Gerald Seymour, getting into books
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Ahhh... the perils of book reviews and freebies. Luckily for me, all the books or poetry collections I'm sent are up my street. But I'm definitely with you on the whole 'Beginning a new book (reading one, that is; not writing one) is a bit like meeting a new person. It often takes time to form a relationship, and if that relationship is good, then it's really sad when it's all over.'ReplyDelete
Sometimes, I pick up books that don't have much going for them at the outset, but I persevere and very often my stubbornness pays off.
I guess that the problem is slightly different when the author is someone whose works (although not all of them, as in your case) have appealed to you in the past. It's not just the 'meeting a new person' effect, but also the bagagge that writer brings with himm/her.
Which is why reading is hardly uncomplicated and... oh! so pleasant. :-)
Great post. Many thanks.
Greetings from London.
Don't you find that, sometimes, you're just not in the mood for a particular book and that, if you come back to it at a different time, the relationship might have a very different outcome? Perhaps the Gerald Seymour might seem slightly less difficult to keep up with at another time?ReplyDelete
Thanks for visiting, Cuban in London! Yes - it is frustrating when I have in the past found some of his books quite riveting. But not this one. It's just too much like hard work, and I've decided to let it go. For now, anyway.ReplyDelete
Alis, I think you're probably right. I should have saved this one for holiday reading, when I have more time. Some books just aren't suited to being picked up for the odd half-hour; they need to be read in one or two big bites!