Lauren In Tokyo

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not reading much lately

If you follow my Current Reading list over on the right column there, you may have noticed that I'm taking an inordinate amount of time to read Joseph Conrad's Nostromo . The reason behind that is frankly that I am not reading it. With the amount of work piled up lately, and coupled with outside reading that I am trying to accomplish, I do not have the time to read for pleasure.

Unfortunately, that's not the whole story. The truth is that the first 50-odd pages of Nostromo have been appallingly boring. Conrad appears to fill each paragraph with as much detail as possible to create a solid world in which to tell the story, but in doing so he seems to have left out the story altogether. That's not accurate, I suppose, and I'm not doing justice to the writing. Let's just say that what would take another author 1 paragraph to say takes Conrad an entire chapter.

The preface and back cover claim that Nostromo is one the 20th century's greatest works of literature, but if this sort of overblown, dense-for-density's-sake type of writing is indicative of what "great literature" ought to be, then I am not surprised when it is reported that the vast majority of Americans don't read. What could they possibly be excited about when the "classics" they are fed are exercises in tedium?

I've read quite a few books in the past couple years, and I've tried to list them in the reading section of this blog. For the most part, I've also contributed reviews to Amazon.com for those books. I haven't hit a brick wall of a book like Nostromo. This is definitely a first.

Perhaps a second, now that I think about it. The last time I felt like I was wasting my time reading a book was with Tim Allen's I'm Not Really Here. Man, what a waste of time that one was. Nostromo is a bit different in that it doesn't seem like I'm just exploring the musings of an idiot, but rather that I'm sitting in the presence of someone who wants to say something but can't get the words to connect with his thoughts.

In any case, it may be a while before I finally finish this book, if I ever do at all. Once things settle down at work again, I'll try again. If it doesn't work out the second time, I'm going to drop Nostromo and move on.

Life's too short to waste it on bad books.

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