Home > Book Reviews > Books I’ve given up on – 7/6/08

Books I’ve given up on – 7/6/08

I’ve read about 40 books this year so far, which is a fair old rate (approx 8 per month or 2 per week). I’ve read a lot of SF, a lot of literary novels, and a few miscellaneous things. I’ve read TAG Hungerford Award winners, Vogel Award winners, and all four books in Simon Haynes “Hal Spacejock” series. There has been a handful of books, however, that I haven’t been able to get through, even though I planned on reading them. Here are a few:

The Alphabet of Light and Dark – Danielle Wood

I got this because of the outstanding title and the fact that it is a Vogel award winner. Unfortunately, the book looks less than appealing. It’s all subjective, of course, but I couldn’t get into this at all. It’s about a lighthouse in Tasmania, apparently. I’m giving this a miss.

A Whispering of Fish – Christopher Murray

This was the TAG Hungerford winner in 2000, and thus it was on my to-read list. I’ve read four Hungerford winners through (Crush, The World Waiting to be Made, Jacob’s Air and The Fur) and I had four to go. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the first chapter of A Whispering of Fish. The less said about this the better.

The House of Breathing – Gail Jones

I haven’t given this book much of a chance, I suppose. I read the first story and tried to read the second. This was the Hungerford winner in 1991. I found the tone of the stories to be too scholarly and detached for my liking. That’s my loss, I guess.

Sixty Lights – Gail Jones

I don’t know why I stopped reading this. I loved the first 60 pages or so, but then I kept putting it down. Again, and again, and again. I gave up at around page 100. This is interesting, because I actually agree with the consensus opinion that Gail Jones is an extremely gifted writer. Jones writes in such a way that images are more important than narrative. A sort of a-linear progression perhaps. As a consequence, this was too amorphous for my liking. That’s a shame, because I’m sure it’s me who is missing out. I will try to read this again in the not-too-distant.

This leads to wonder why it is that I couldn’t get through the above books, all of which have won major awards. In the case of Gail Jones, I think it’s simply a matter of taste. Jones’ method is cool, subtle, even detached. I don’t respond well to that. I wasn’t a great fan of Brenda Walker’s Crush for a similar reason. I would rather read novels with sledgehammer type narratives, such as McGahan’s Praise or van Loon’s Road Story, even if the subject matter doesn’t particularly interest me (Road Story) or is repulsive (Praise). This demonstrates that my own reading preference is for narrative over image, or perhaps time over space. I shall consider this further.

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