Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Before 31 Update

Just in case you thought I was TOTALLY slacking....

I have actually been trying to keep up with my 31 Before 31 goal. And by "keeping up," I mean, "attempting books and abandoning them if they suck." Which totally counts.

First off, a review of the very first endeavor of this goal: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I started jotting down some notes in a notebook, because my intention was to  - 

-Oh hang on, I'm watching Twilight: New Moon and it's the scene where Edward takes his shirt off to sparkle in the Italian city....he's so glittery....

-and we're back. So, my notes were all intellectual and crap, with things like 

"Writing style doesn't flow, not easy to follow"

and then quickly devolved into chicken scratches about the seemingly-endless sermons preached in the book. Kindle tells me I completed 21% of this masterpiece, and I call that 20% too much. 

To be fair, I've heard multiple times that I should read Dubliners instead. So I may do that. But part of this list was making myself a promise that if I absolutely could not get through a book, I was free to abandon it as long as I could make a solid case for why I didn't like it. And my solid case for the Artist is that it was just plain arduous to get through, and for every five pages I read, there might be one spot of prose that really stood out. All in all, I don't feel bad for quitting it.

Next on my list is Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Which is a spectacular book but, well, rather horrifying. It's something I can really only read in broad daylight, and certainly not while eating anything. It's sickening both because it describes a lot of death and destruction and, more importantly, it shows such a horrible side of humanity. 
I'm only about 25% of the way through it (thanks, Kindle!) and I do intend to finish it, but I will say that I'm not enamored with the prose. I just don't love the frame narrative style, especially since the whole thing is basically just one long monologue. I feel like I might like it better if I had a solid five hours to read the whole thing through, but I don't, and so it's sort of like walking in and out of a conversation where you have to interrupt the speaker to say "Wait, go back like three pages, I forgot what you were talking about."

Since I've found I can't just pick up and read Conrad whenever I want a literary fix, I went ahead and started Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Oh man, this is what I am talking about. I loved it from the start because I like his writing style so much more than Joyce or Conrad. I'm only a few chapters in, and I like it already. I especially enjoy that it's philosophy, but wrapped in a prose that's easy to follow and not at all preachy.

So, there you go. I AM ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHING THINGS. Now, about that book I'm supposed to write....


Mahliska said...

The Dubliners is definitely a MUST read! One of my (many) favorites. In fact, my short story collection in progress in sort of inspired by this collection, in that the protagonist in each experiences some sort of paralysis/epiphany about his/her life. But Joyce, big shoes and all, I'm loathe to compare my work to his! How dare I :)

I checked out the others on your 31 before 31 list, and if you can squeeze any Virginia Woolf on there, too, doo eeet. I'd be happy to give you a recap of some of my favs of hers. But maybe start with A Room of One's Own, if you've never read anything else by her. Carson McCullers is also fantastic. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Oh, and HI! It's been a long time, hope you're well :)

xo, Melissa (Lee's friend) ;)

The New Glitterati said...

Girl - if you like it, I'm sold. I trust your taste!

I actually have space on my list and I think Woolf is the perfect candidate. I've already read McCullers, which was also beautiful.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Also - are you blogging these days? Send me a link, I'll post it.


Mahliska said...

I just started blogging again, to chronicle my experience revising and submitting my work to various publications, but essentially it's more a catalyst to hold myself accountable to actually submitting! I figure if I talk about it in public, I can't chicken out :)

Here's the link: http://mahliska.blogspot.com

Good luck with your reading challenge! There are quite a few on your list I've long been meaning to tackle myself...maybe I'll create a 35 before 35 list, give myself a few years, LOL

xo M.