I don't feel pressured to read. I do it because I enjoy reading. But for the past week or so it's been a chore. I completely blame Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre almost killed me. I told myself I'd finish it before 2011 got here... that didn't happen. I've completed five other books in the time it took me to knock this 19th century British behemoth out. It's over and done; I've turn the last page. The final word was, "Amen" and in response all I could say was, "Hallelujah!"
I liked it better than Wuthering Heights but thats not say much. I'm glad I read the book. If nothing else, it proved that 19th century British lit ain't for me. Dickens, Eliot, pick a Brontë, I'll throw Conrad into the pot, and damn near anyone else other than Jane Austen you can think of I'll pass and say their work is not for me. I can admit that there is quality there, I'd just rather contemplate the sharp end of a Bowie knife on a tender spot on my body than seek said quality out.
It's odd as I love Russian 19th century writers so much: Turgenev, Tolstoy, Checkov, Dostoevsky, Lermontov, and probably a host of others I don't know and can't pronounce. German writers from the same time, Goethe, Schiller, Heine also make me very happy. I've even come across some French writing for the time that I've thoroughly enjoyed though I'm not well versed enough to even drop names. I'm sure some bright, literature person could tell me what that means about me and my reading preferences but I don't know such people...
So Jane Eyre is over and done with, problem solved right? All-kinds-of-wrong. I'm reading Middlesex, which is possibly the most compelling thing I've ever come across--and it just won't end. It never ends... and I've no clue where it's going. It's long to def: i.e. really long. I like it better--much better--than The Virgin Suicides, but at least that one was terminal. Middlesex feels indefinite. (Commentary forthcoming) Jeffery Eugenides is quickly joining the ranks of the previously mentioned British authors from yesteryear.
I'm also reading The Mammoth Book of Merlin figuring super awesome short stories will help pick up my reading pace. Normally this is true, but this collection has very few redeeming qualities to speak of so far; I've about a hundred pages to go. It's not bad; all the writing is very competent. It is however, the most uninteresting compilation I've ever come across. Considering the subject matter I'm amazed at the blandness of the stories included. It makes me believe in the power of some of those 'name brand' editors I see on regular fiction anthologies and collections. I'm not even sure that Michael Swanwick, with the last story in the book can save this mammoth book of trite banalities.
I want to read something fabulous at this very moment and at the same time, my disenfranchisement with reading makes me not want to open a different book, but rather turn to the unthinkable: renew my World of Warcraft account after four long years of dormancy.
My favorite hobby somehow got tedious.