Monday, March 23, 2009

book guilt and frustration

I feel bad when I don't finish a book; it's a terrible feeling - like leaving your dog outside in the cold overnight (WHICH I'D NEVER DO!) and not coming back to get her - EVER.

So excruciating was the decision not to finish Awesome: a novel by Jack Pendarvis. I love urban fantasy movies and literature, so when I read reviews about the humourous tale of fabled giant making his way across the country to win back his true love, I thought, HEY - THIS IS RIGHT UP MY ALLEY!

Unfortunately, that was not the case. I can imagine that this book would be very funny for some people. I am not one of those people - and it's not the fault of the author and the book is not a poor(ly written) one. Awesome is written in a voice and style that I can appreciate, but can't relate to on any level.

The protagonist is a megalomaniacal giant, the eponymous Awesome, that I couldn't force myself to like or care about. His world of obligation was limited solely to himself, which made it difficult to invest my interest as a reader in his interactions with the other characters.

It also didn't help that the reviews I read were completely inaccurate. The book was described as 'cute' several times; while whimsical, cute, the book was definitely not. If I had to label it - I might call the genre Adult Whimsy (which, if you think about it, doesn't make sense because only adults are aware of the concept of 'whimsy' anyway. Children express, and if I remember correctly, sometimes perceive the mundane and the whimsical interchangeably and with equal conviction - which must be nice - so there's no suspension of disbelief required for them to become lost in fantasy. But I digress.) - or maybe Adult-THEMED Whimsy.

There's lot of talk of ejaculation and bodily fluids, which isn't what I was expecting. I'm not opposed to toilet humor but it didn't seem to serve a purpose in Awesome. There were some parts so ridiculous that I couldn't help but laugh - but they were few and far between for me. That said, I DO think Pendarvis has succeeded in creating challenging prose; I think it was too unconventional for my taste, which is difficult for me to swallow.

I felt like I was a slave to the book and was only continuing to read it because I had began it.... so I stopped (the only other books I can remember not finishing are Marley & Me - because I only starting reading it to waste time at the laundromat and was reading another book at the same time - and The Maytrees by Annie Dillard - which I was conned into returning to the library. I went in to renew it and someone else had it on hold so they took it from me. I have it on hold again now). The book just wasn't for me. I have a feeling it's more of a cult-following thing.

Anywho - I'm reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac now - which I'm enjoying so far. I had wanted to read it for a while. Next I'm on to The Mystery Guest by Grégoire Bouillier.... which has a trailer. I love creative marketing.