Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Least Favorite

Day 2 in the 30 Day Book Challenge is your least favorite. That also was quite easy. I have two books I wouldn't pick up again if they were free. And, if stranded on a deserted island with only these two, I would not read them, that's now much I dislike them.

It's well known I don't like Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I may dislike it but it should be in the canon of literature. The themes he tackles in this book are as relevant today as they were when it was published in 1954. (I have not read ahead on the list so this may come up again.)

People cast aside Moby Dick by Herman Melville but I rather enjoyed it. I may be visiting this book some time this month.

The two books I don't like are Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison and The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.

I came upon this book when I worked at The Bookstore. I had finished a book and was looking for something to read. This had been a featured book in several book clubs and one of the other sales people had read it. She said it was very well written and very good.

I quit half way through.

Depressing doesn't cover it. I could find no redeeming qualities in the main character. I didn't understand her motivations. I felt the problems she got into were manufactured just because the author thought, "Oh well, I've written 10 pages with nothing bad happening, let's kill off her dog." I'm not one for depressing narratives and I finally set it aside, eventually adding the book to a give away box.

And then there is The Power and the Glory.

My high school English teacher gave me a list of a dozen books she felt I needed to read and this was on it. She loaned me the book and I took to it eagerly. It is considered, along with Lord of the Flies, to be one of the best English-language novels. It deals with a time period in Mexican history where the government was trying to suppress the Catholic Church.

In the book, a priest must go into hiding yet minister to his flock. Anti-clerical soldiers dodge him as he travels across a section of Mexico toward the north and freedom. What angered me and caused me to never finish this book was that the priest turns back and heads right into the camp of the soldiers and certain death, with no logical reason why he would do so. He wasn't saving anyone. He had been helped along the way and had done an admirable job of helping the poor and those who relied on him. No one had died for sheltering him. He just suddenly, as far as I could tell, decides, with the northern border in view, with his safety just a 3 hour walk, with people ready to make sure he got to that border, turns back towards the soldiers following him when he knows he will be killed. I couldn't understand it and reread the last 3 chapters up to the point of that decision at least 4-5 times to see what I could have missed. I was so upset at this decision, I read the last page of the book, closed it and have no desire to pick it up again.

I understand that the best writing sometimes leaves motivations behind for a compelling story. I also kept reading, devouring the prose, because I was convinced the priest would get within 100 feet of the border and he would be shot dead because someone would have betrayed him. I would have been angry but it would have been a more satisfying ending. I didn't feel the priest should make it to freedom because he was serving as an allegory but this turn of events just made me so angry. I handed the book back to my teacher and said, "Interesting read. What's next?"

These two illustrate the famous Dorothy Parker quote, "This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It is to be heaved with great force." 

This is going to be a fun and exciting exercise. I'm not looking ahead on the list, preferring to be somewhat surprised each morning when I look and see what the topic is.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


No comments:

Post a Comment