There are times, unavoidably, that I pick up a book that is terrible. You’ve read about a couple of those books here (do I need to remind you of the staggering mess wrought by the burning flames of failure that is John Irving’s latest?).
Then there are the books that are just so utterly awful that I can’t, just can’t, finish. These are three of them.
P.S. I Love You, by Cecelia Ahearn
I read one page of P.S. I Love You and the first thing I did was skip ahead six chapters. “No 512-page book can sustain itself with this writing, can it?” I asked myself.
Alas, it apparently could.
What did me in: “Holly held the blue cotton sweater to her face and the familiar small immediately struck her, an overwhelming grief knotting her stomach and pulling at her heart. Pins and needles ran up the back of her neck and a lump in her throat threatened to choke her.” Ahearn, p.1
Really? Pins and needles? I never would have thought of that.
What I learned: If there are seven copies of a best-seller-turned-feature-film at my local used book shop, all marked for $1 and under, there is a reason. And not to fall for “it was so moving” from your patsy of a friend.
Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Self-indulgent. Self-indulgent. Self-indulgent. Self-indulgent. Selfindulgentselfindulgentself indulgentselfindulgentselfindulg…
Let’s hear it for the folks who get to deal with their issues by vacationing for a year. Because that’s relatable.
What did me in: “What a catastrophe. How could I be such a criminal jerk as to proceed this deep into a marriage, only to leave it? We’d only just bought this house a year ago. Hadn’t I wanted this nice house? Hadn’t I loved it? So why was I haunting its halls every night now, howling like Medea? Wasn’t I proud of all we’d accumulated – the prestigious home in the Hudson Valley, the apartment in Manhattan, the eight phone lines, the friends and picnics and the parties, the weekends spent roaming the aisles of some box-shaped superstore of our choice, buying ever more appliances on credit? Why did I feel so overwhelmed with duty…” Gilbert, p. 11
Eight phone lines?! Eight?! You’re right – that life does sound too much to bear.
What I learned: Oprah still has terrible taste, as do my pseudo-third wave, post-feminist neighbors.
Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson
It’s 592 pages. 592 pages of epistolary-y doddering. With tiny print. And a kind of creepy lecher who wants to boink a 15 year old girl. The girl writes letters to her parents about it. He likes her more from her letters. She writes more. Is she falling in love with him? He hopes so.
I think it ends with a wedding.
What did me in: “Why, let me see, my Dearest, said he. — But I think of no more at present. For it would be needless to say, how much I value you for your Sweetness of Temper, and that open Chearfulness of Coutenance which adorns you, when nothing has given my Fairest Apprehensions for her Virtue: A Sweetness, and a Chearfulness, that prepossesses in your Favour, at first Sight, the MInd of every on that beholds you.” Richardson, p. 370
I feel like I’m reading in circles.
What I learned: If I have kids, reading this will be their punishment.