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Thread: books you've had to stop reading

  1. #1
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    Default books you've had to stop reading

    i've had to put down moby dick. i put off reading the copy i bought for 20 years. made a fist of it and just read 61 chapters - over half of it.

    however i'm totally sickened by the slaughter of whales it describes. yes - it is within the context of an earlier age when hunting whale was incredibly dangerous for men - but even so it disgusts me. melville is entirely wrapped up in the perceived excitement, honour and majesty of the activity.

    it's a thoroughly disgraceful bit of writing that deserves none of the respect (oh sacred american tome) accorded to it.

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    I'm one of the legions who made it halfway through Moby Dick. I thought it was marvellous, but full of punishing digressions. Luka WILL mock me here for making it halfway through.

    The animal rights angle is interesting, as that hadn't even occurred to me. I wonder if this has been a popular criticism levelled at it? Reminds me of Nabokov's lecture on Don Quixote, where he roundly rejects it for its revelling in cruelty:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1983/02/13/bo...pagewanted=all

    Hunting is one of the formative activities of our species (of any species really), and was a source of excitement and joy for thousands of years. Indeed, it is only in our modern industrial society that hunting animals is a minority pursuit. Not to say we should revel in it ourselves, but to impugn people living in a prior age for doing so as 'disgraceful' is surely a little harsh? Not worthy of ANY of the respect its accorded? Surely Moby Dick's reputation doesn't rest upon its humane treatment of whales?

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    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Berlin-Imag.../dp/1780224583

    I started reading this yesterday. Caught my eye in a shop and I'm visiting Berlin for the first time in a few years. I will give it another shot, but the introduction was so laboriously written that it put me right off:

    'A Soviet MiG flew low over the Brandenberg Gate, touching the sound barrier, shaking the windows and my faith in the inherent goodness of man.'

    The upside to reading a sentence like this in a critically praised book is that it makes you think 'maybe even I could get published, and praised, if I manage to put together 300 pages of this stuff!'

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    Moby dick is outstanding. Fully deserving of its place at the peak of the canon. I think it is a mistake to focus on the descriptions of the horror of the whaling industry - it is only one aspect of a multi-faceted and often contradictory symbolic order, and I dont think its fair to say the melville revels in it. Certainly the idea that it is 'american psycho' for whales seems deeply wrong to me.

    Have you read Blood Meridian?

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    The elaborate descriptions of cruelty provide the justification for the whales madness, its righteous fury. Amongst other things, the whale symbolises nature placing a limit on man's dominance, unwillingness to be exploited - an exploitation condemned by Melville, the murder of whales being "in order to light the gay bridals and other merry-makings of men, and also to illuminate the solemn churches that preach unconditional inoffensiveness by all to all."

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    Dont think Ive ever stopped reading something out of disgust. Mostly boredom or shitness.

    If something elicits a visceral reaction then its a must read.

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    I loved Blood Meridian. Are there any other McCarthy novels that touch it?

    As I recall, the violence in Blood Meridian is often poetically rendered but never anything other than horrific in effect.

    I really like this James Wood review of 'No Country for Old Men': http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/07/25/red-planet

    To read Cormac McCarthy is to enter a climate of frustration: a good day is so mysteriously followed by a bad one. McCarthy is a colossally gifted writer, certainly one of the greatest observers of landscape. He is also one of the great hams of American prose, who delights in producing a histrionic rhetoric that brilliantly ventriloquizes the King James Bible, Shakespearean and Jacobean tragedy, Melville, Conrad, and Faulkner.
    He IS hammy, but I've always enjoyed ham. Especially with pickle. MMMM.

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    I think they're all brilliant. The road is probably next in the list, but 'Child of god' and 'Outer dark' have a similar apocalyptic buzz about them.

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    I picked up No Country in a shop the other day for a couple of quid. I'm slightly wary of reading it though because I loved the film so much. (arse about tit but that's the way it is)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    I picked up No Country in a shop the other day for a couple of quid. I'm slightly wary of reading it though because I loved the film so much. (arse about tit but that's the way it is)
    its very good, the film was very faithful to it I think.

    i've read blood meridian 4 or 5 times. Can understand why people put it down though.

    Also, you can add me to the list of moby dick abandoners. Ulysees too. Not that I wasn't enjoying them, but I simply couldn't sustain the time and effort required. With books like that, once you take a break its very difficult to get back into it.

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    I've never even attempted Ulysses, despite being fairly obsessed with Joyce at points. (I've read Dubliners, A Portrait... and Ellmann's biography.)

    One of my friends managed to do it and he said that it is worth it, although there are obviously these long passages which are almost unbearably dull and obtuse.

    I'm also put off by the stuff I will definitely miss in there because I'm not Catholic, Irish, and haven't read the literary canon. But presumably every reader who isn't the author of a book will miss things in it.

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    Moby Dick is the fucking bomb. I found it damn near unputdownable.

    I don't think I've ever failed to finish a book because I found it gross or distasteful or whatever. I've given up on both The Atrocity Exhibition and On The Road because I simply found them really boring (sure I've mentioned them both on here before). Orhan Pahmuk's My Name Is Read I just found utterly pretentious and too in love with its own po-mo cleverness, which I could probably have coped with if there had been a sufficiently gripping story to follow (I'm old fashioned like that) but there just wasn't. For a similar reason I don't think I ever finished The Soft Machine, which is odd as I really enjoyed Naked Lunch. I mean I loved the prose and the imagery, but I do prefer to have at least some semblence of a plot with things happening to and being done by characters for some kind of at least halfway logical reason.

    One book I nearly stopped reading from sheer bleakness is Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True. Starring: extreme family dysfunction! mental illness! institutional violence! racism! poverty! police corruption! alcoholism! man-on-woman rape! man-on-man rape! Aids! despair! suicide! I mean, I know those are all real things of course, but I spent the first 90% of the book thinking "No one person's life can be this fucking miserable, can it?" - and then in the last 10% of it, so many things come good for the narrator that it seems frankly miraculous.
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

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    I read 'On the Road' at the perfect age for not finding it boring and self-indulgent and badly written. I read Kafka around that age too, which was very much NOT the perfect age for Kafka.

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    I think the Dharma bums is much more readable than on the road.

    Amerika took me a couple of tries. I generally find Kafka fairly interminable.

    Anna Kavan's 'Ice' was the last thing I abandoned out of sheer confusion.

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    i finished on the road, but didn't get what was supposed to be so revolutionary about it. maybe i had been expecting something more experimental like burroughs or something. and the neal cassidy/dean moriarty character is just an insufferable, entitled gobshite. massively overrated iyam

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