When I was younger I was afraid of leaving things unfinished. Every unfinished act seemed to indicate a weak character…another point that would come to weigh against me and any hopes of happiness and success. My mother constantly cautioned against my flighty nature, passionate about plants one month, completely enthralled with swimming the next. I lived in fear and doubt of my passions, focusing on the act of completion in a way that was obsessive-compulsive and oft ridden with fear. My agnostic parents had managed to invent the sort of guilt that often only thousands of years of religion would hope to inspire.
One of the consequences of this was my inability to put down a book, no matter how uninspiring or simply bad it turned out to be. I remember the books that I have left behind with no intentions of finishing on one hand; that number up until today is 0.
But today marks the begining of a new moment of discovery for me. The moment that makes me realize that life is too short to be stuck reading a epicly bad book—one that brings me no joy, entertainment, or illumination. With that in mind after 200 some pages of The Shadow of the Wind, I have made the somewhat milestone decision to stop with no intention of ever begining again. Critics and online reviews be damned. I have read enough books in my life to see a fraud from a mile away. Goodbye horribly rickety omage to the Victorian, gothic, thriller that you are. I can no longer stomach your trite characters, your boring flashback narratives, the horribly distracting flowery and opulent prose, and the flimsy overused plot that has failed to spark even one iota of my imagination.
I’m happily onto something completely different. Here’s a little taste, the beginning of Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers:
I lost my thirty-fifth year. We got seperated in the confusion of a foreign city where the language was strange and the authorities hostile. It was my own fault. I’d told it, “Wait here. I’m just going to change some money. Check our papers. Don’t move from this spot, no matter what.” And chaos chose that moment to hit home.
My other years persist, like those strangers I still embrace in sleep, intimate in five minutes. Some years slip their chrysalis, leaving only a casing to hold their place in my sequence. Each year is a difficult love with whom I’ve played house, declaring, at each clock tick, what it will and won’t put up with.