Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Bad At Finishing Books (2)

I reluctantly gave up on MJ Hyland's Carry Me Down two thirds of the way, I just got tired of the voice. But I may go back. I am now halfway through JM Coetzee's Slow Man which I started before Christmas and stopped, for no reason really, I just got distracted. I couldn't finish Elizabeth Costello, his last novel, it was hard going, and I was also bored. Costello is a fictional novelist, and, in fact, she has just entered Slow Man as a character, quite implausibly, I would say. At first this jarred, and I thought I would have to stop reading - it seems she is going to orchestrate events in the rest of the book, she may even write the rest of the book - but once you accept this tricksy device, it is quite fun. I've just read a sex scene between an amputee and a woman with no eyes, surely gratuitous in any other book, but funny and believable in Coetzee's hands.

9 comments:

Reading the Signs said...

I love Coetzee. Well, all I have actually read of his is 'Disgrace'and I loved that. I find tricksy devices in novels increasingly difficult. I literally "lose the plot" and I also seem to ditch novels before the end, unless the language really holds me.

nmj said...

hey signs, i loved 'disgrace' too . . . you are right, if the language/voice holds you, you can put up with a lot, but sometimes it is easier just to let go...someone commenting on this blog once, said that if a book takes more energy than it gives, it's time to give it up. i thought that was a great way of putting it.

goodthomas said...

I must admit I have never read Coetzee. I'm a bad boy, I know.

You are not saying it is bad to be "bad at finishing books," are you, nmj? I hope not. Seems quite healthy that if you are not being "kept" there, either through the writing or the story, it seems silly to stick around.

As long as you have plenty to read, as long as your stack of "to be read" books is still current . . .

I am still thinking about your dream from yesterday and how wonderfully random it was and how you had to look "bisons" up on google to remind yourself what they looked like!! I loved that.

How are you feeling?

nmj said...

Hey GT, No, of course, it is not bad to be bad at finishing books, it is healthy as hell - I guess I still feel a bit bad because I used to force myself to finish books in another life, and it took years to adjust to it being okay not to finish one, but I have gone to the other extreme and often only get a few pages before giving up. I am pretty intolerant now!

I love that you are still thinkin about my dream. I only know they were bison because the 'owner' of the bison kept telling me they were bison, but I think they were truly a cross between Highland cattle and horses.

nmj said...

Oh, thanks for asking how I am, I hope to go back to my own place on Friday, all being well.

Reading the Signs said...

nmj, it was me that said that. How very nice to have myself quoted back at me!

I am reading Howard Jacobson's 'Kalooki Nights' now - so far a real joy.

nmj said...

Ah, Signs, so did you used to comment as 'sparrow' before you blogged?!

Reading the Signs said...

yes, I'd forgotten! Of course my real name is Signs.

re. what you said at mine about finding the right word: I happen to think think "gubbed" is rather good.

nmj said...

I love that you are sparrow!

I will look out for that Howard Jacobson. I read him years ago (Coming From Behind?), he made me laugh, though I'm not that keen on his journalism.