Books, housework and men: if you don’t like it, give up early
OPINION: I always thought that in the unlikely event of a pandemic and a lockdown, I would be energized. I was reading worthy books and learning some creepy kind of embroidery, like hardanger, where I would have to make a mess of the little holes you cut in the fabric.
Instead, inertia set in. Quentin Crisp said, “After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get worse,” and it’s inspiring in times like this. You get a lot of dustballs with long-haired cats and people with pale hair, but I walk over them hissing softly. The truth is, inviting friends over is just a trick to get you to clean the house, and when you can’t play hostess, you know the rest.
I now shrug my shoulders at the grubby floors and the accumulated dregs of my family’s life, inexplicable treasures we have all kept in this bulky space, and I don’t think about the state the oven is in. Who wants to know?
I wish I had always felt that way. I would have read a lot more. I may have also threw a few more books on the wall when I stopped reading them. I still remember the satisfaction of screaming The people of bones across the room. Keri Hulme is a really good writer, but I hated violence. And of course reacted violently.
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* Thank goodness for Jonathan Franzen’s Carrefour
Novelist Mark Billingham says you should give up a book if you don’t like it after the first 20 pages. If only I could have done it with a few connections. Apparently 40 percent of people stubbornly read to the end, as with bad marriages. A mistake.
I gave up on Malcolm Lowry’s Under the volcano, by Herman Melville Moby-dick, anything by the horrible William S. Burroughs and Charles Bukowski, and many other things that bothered me. I ditched the new Beatles book, One two three four, after author Craig Brown launched a vile attack on Yoko Ono. Hating concept art is tedious. It wasn’t my book, so I didn’t throw it away.
A survey of reading habits on Goodreads a few years ago found that no one had ever finished James Joyce’s book. Ulysses, which cannot be true and almost makes you want to try. The most abandoned classic novels, he reported, were Ulysses, Catch-22, Moby-Dick, The The Lord of the Rings, and the really horrible Atlas shrugged his shoulders, while people claim to have read Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, and The Bible. In what kind of torture chamber would you need to make this confession?
Surprisingly, there was no mention of Classic comics. Thanks to them, many of us were amazed during the conversations. I recommend them to anyone who goes to snobbish dinners when the world is back to normal. You can wing it if you remember the garish, green ink-heavy images.
Much of reading has to do with your age when trying a book and your mood. I read War and peace as an impatient teenager, skipping pages from conversation to conversation, but read it all a few years ago and liked it very much. The Bible, for god’s sake, is best left to the experts.
I saw that Eat Pray Lovehas been mentioned in this report as a very reprehensible book. There is no power on earth, or money, that could make me read or sit through the movie unless I was both sedated and in a straitjacket. People writing books on Mysticism / Asian Belief System / Voyage of Discovery, Astrology / Chakra Reading Theme should be fined for every copy sold. They only encourage foolish young women to think that there is a sassy New Age guy who needs their aura.
It’s an old line that goes back in time. Take it from me.