Saturday, August 20, 2005

Soapbox Saturday

So the other day at the library, I was perusing the new and recommended book section. When I go with Mr. Personality, my time to browse and read blurbs, do a search on the computer and the like, is basically about 5 minutes. I am usually quite picky about my books, but lately I have been feeling adventurous. Perhaps just panicky about finding a book in my short allotment of time might be a better description, but it sounds ever so much more flattering to say adventurous, though.

I saw the name Carson McCullers on the spine of one book, and immediately remembered her as the author of Member of the Wedding. Now back in high school when I read that particular book, I enjoyed it. The title, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter sounded intriguing, and I quickly placed it in my dorky little bag that I bring to the library because if I try to carry everything in my arms plus corral Mr. Personality, a loud and embarassing tumble to the floor is sure to ensue. I learned this the hard way. Thus I am very proud of my bag made out of recycled plastic bottles. Sure it is ugly, but such can be the price of saving the earth.

I begin to read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It is set in WWII era Georgia, and it begins rather enticingly. There are deaf mutes, a drunken socialist, a black doctor, a restaurant owner whose wife suddenly dies, and a young girl coming of age. Ooooh, nice complex characters all living in the same tiny town, this is looking good. Halfway through the book, these little warning bells go off in my brain. She is taking too long to explain things, I think. Why isn't this book actually going anywhere? What the are the motivations behind these characters and the weird choices they are making? But, being the bibliophile that I am, I refuse to give up faith in Ms. McCullers.

With about 20 pages to go til the end, I am just rushing through to finish the damn thing. With a sinking feeling that gets worse with the turn of every page, I know I am going to be horribly angry when I finish. *Spoiler Alert* Sure enough, the ending is an absolute bitch that illuminates nothing, that results in the suicide of one of the main characters, the young girl getting dumped after her first sexual experience, the socialist just getting the hell out of town because he is crazy, the black doctor contracting TB and the restaurant owner still having a dead wife.

Now why can there not be some kind of warning system for books like these? Little stickers that say something to the effect, "Do not in any way believe the quotes on the back cover, sister. When you complete this book, you will mourn the fact that you have forever lost 3 hours of your life that you can never get back. Not to mention the countless trees that were wasted on the printing of this book. Whoever recommended this book should be sentenced to five years of being locked in a room with only James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake as reading material. Slowly replace the book on the shelf and walk away. Quickly. And don't look back."

Now that would be something useful.


Mel said...

I feel that way about movies, too.

Heather said...

Ha ha! I'm pretty sure I read that book many years ago (the name seems very familiar) but I've obviously blocked it from my memory.

I just read a book that was a similar waste of time. Blue Shoe, by Anne Lammott. I love her non-fiction stuff, but, as I discovered, her fiction leaves something to be desired.

Anvilcloud said...

In this house we have decided that lousy books can be closed and not finished. Life is too short.

Elizabeth said...

You know...I highly recommend you go see the movie Broken Flowers with Bill Murray. It's awesome. Really worth your money and time.

WordsRock said...

I know a few books and movies I'd like to put such a sticker on.

I gave up finishing bad books a few years ago. Life is too short and the ending usually disappoints anyway.