Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Book Under the Bed

Do you have a book under the bed, one of those lurking tomes that just doesn't get read, despite intentions to the contrary? I have two come to mind, growling in a murk of guilt and purple prose. Technically, I suppose that could make for a lovely twilight landscape or a bountiful autumn feast(gold leaves, purple grapes). At the very least, both of them will make for an autumn festival of blogging as I attempt to finish both E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe between now and the end of September. If I have time, I'll add in John Crowley's Little, Big.

What stops me in the first two books, earlier and earlier in each attempt, is the language. It doesn't flow for me in the way that it seems to for others. I was thinking about this in the bookstore a few days ago and I decided that I've reached the point in my life when I have different 'ports' available. Essentially, there are few "firsts" left for books (especially if I'm reading genre books in a narrow subcategory) and there are few "bests" left for them either. Not to mention that I'm older and looking for a different kind of escape in the novels I read. Whether this means that I'm looking for older protagonists or a particular authorial voice, I've found that the particular moments for some books has passed me by.

I think that I picked up Little, Big too early. It was something that I wasn't ready to embrace when I first picked it up and now it's become that book that I've carried around for at least a decade without finishing. There is a momentum of failure that I'm overwhelmed by when I look at the cover.

Reading them this year would be overcoming a challenge and it would give me an interesting point of reference for where I am in my life--what it is about these books that speaks to me or doesn't? Can I drag them out from under the bed (to make room, doubtless, for others) and add them to the shelf?

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