monomaniacal curmudgeon aka unreliable narrator whom I think doth protest too much spews hate from a wing chair.
lots of words, no point. also no chaptmonomaniacal curmudgeon aka unreliable narrator whom I think doth protest too much spews hate from a wing chair.
lots of words, no point. also no chapter breaks, no dialogue, no plot, no relief in sight. mind-numbingly repetitive - the perfect before-bed soporofic.
this is highly rated and lauded by my very smart friends who've read it - so what am I missing? does it get better? does it get different? is there a reason to pick this up again?
ETA: To clarify, I have put this on my "abandoned-for-now" shelf and after further thought, I have cleared my rating. The last questions I ask, above (almost rhetorically) are enough to indicate that I recognize this one's gonna nag at me. I had the thought on the drive in to work this a.m. that this character is so very lonely, sitting in his wing chair, in the dark, in the entry way, in his two-sizes-too-small funeral suit (he loved Joana deeply, it is clear; as he did/does the Auersbergers); an entirely self-imposed barrier of pride and sadness and bitterness between himself and the rest of the dinner party guests; muttering to himself and ranting about them though he longs to join them, his protestations and vehement condemnation of them - and of himself as one-but-not-one-of-them - notwithstanding.
This is - or, I suspect, will be - the re-entry point for me; one that will pull me back to this - eventually, and at a time that I'm more receptive to its style.
I read somewhere that if you pick up a book, and you're not enjoying it by either: a) your age (if you are under 5Too much work for too little reward.
I read somewhere that if you pick up a book, and you're not enjoying it by either: a) your age (if you are under 50); or b) 100 minus your age (if you are over 50), you should abandon it and move on. There is too much to read and life is too short to be spent reading bad books.
I think this applies particularly to books in that grey zone, where you can tell the writer is winding up to something, and the style and story has enough ooomph in it to keep you powering on, despite perhaps your better judgement.
It's not that Byatt is not a good writer: she is. I am enjoying her eviscerating attack on the insular, political world of academia, with its serpent-eating-its-tail kind of irrelevance. The set-up of the grad student/teaching assistant/temp couple, living in a dank basement, banned from the garden, and feeding off of each other in passive-aggressive co-dependency was ... well, pretty much perfect (and hit a little close to home!) The send-up of feminist scholarship is priceless.
But it's all a little too much to wade through for just a taste of these morsels. It's too clever, and too complicated, by half. So far, I've got two major characters, two minor characters, a slew of tertiary characters including some that we see only through the eyes of the two major ones; two poets--who are two more major characters--from each of whom I am getting internal monologue, dialogue, and painstakingly-fabricated Victorian-era poems, letters, and academic research papers reflecting all of that. And these are rife with references, allusions and imagery from Victorian and classical times, both faux and likely real, but I just can't sort it all out and right now, I don't really want to. Oh, and we're on two continents, one convincingly, and one much less so.
I've given it to p. 108, and I'm still not sure that I won't come back to it. Perhaps a different season, a different frame of mind. This novel is likely, for me, like drinking single-malt scotch in the summer: sometimes I do, but I rarely enjoy it. I need a bracing cool autumn evening, or a blizzardy night, woodfire blazing, my faithful companion, Sutcliffe, the Beagle, by my side. In other words, I need to get into a rarified connoisseur's headspace and let the experience wash over me while I noodle away at it like a crossword.
I will put this one back on the shelf and maybe try again in January....more