Ah, lists. 2017 marks an experiment to read outside my taste. Every year there are unfinished books, but this year I’ve decided to keep a list to see if any patterns emerge that might themselves be intriguing. I generally don’t write unfavourable reviews because I rarely finish a book I dislike, but a few words on this page, buried off blog might aid my search for patterns.
If, in my eagerness to read great literature, I’ve mistakenly abandoned a fine piece of art, please let me know in comments.
- Carmen Boullosa, Texas: The Great Theft (trans. Samantha Schnee), Deep Vellum (2014) – Abandoned at page 75/281. The story’s context is so densely drawn that it is too substantial for its innumerable characters to bear.
- Antoine Volodine, Post-Exoticism in 10 Lessons, Lesson 11 (trans. J. T. Mahany), Open Letter (2015) – Abandoned at page 31/93. Perhaps not a place to start with this writer; hermetic game-playing.
- Sergio Chejfek, My Two Worlds, (trans. Margaret B. Carson), Open Letter (2011) – Abandoned at page 39/103. Sebald imitation without personality: ponderous.
- Fleur Jaeggy, Last Vanities, (trans. Tim Parks), New Directions (1998) – Abandoned at page 9/96. After reading two Jaeggy novels, which, despite appreciating the sentence-by-sentence technical skill, left me cold, this seemed just more of the same.
- Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, The Golden Calf, (trans. Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson), Open Letter (2009) – Abandoned at page 10/315. Trying as I am to read against my taste, this sort of heavy-handed humour is several steps too far. I’m probably not the reader for ‘wild tales’ and fun-filled ‘romps’ (see also The Master and Margarita).
- Nadja Spiegel, sometimes i lie and sometimes i don’t, (trans. Rachel McNicholl), Dalkeith Archive (2015) – Abandoned after trying several stories. I’ve little patience for this type of thing. In this case it ran out quickly.
- Claire Donato, Burial, Tarpaulin Sky, 2013 – Abandoned at page 19/90. Twee and irritating.
- Camilla Grudova, The Doll’s Alphabet, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017 – Abandoned at page 27/182. Not without charm, but leans too far towards magic realism for my taste.
- Roberto Bolaño, 2666, (trans. Natasha Wimmer), Picador, 2009 – Abandoned at page 183/898. Unconvinced by the characters and the world that Bolaño conjures; ultimately I didn’t care enough, at any level, to continue.