I tried three times to read this one. First two times on an ereader where the need to flip back to the family tree on the first page (the book is a memoir that spans several generations) made getting absorbed by the book nearly impossible. The third time I got the book from the library and made it a least a third of the way in and then… nothing. I just couldn’t commit I guess. And I feel like a first rate reading fraud as the rest of the world assesses this book as one of the very great, and I know I *should* as a literary sort, think the same thing, but I don’t. I just wasn’t interested in the family, in the reasoning behind the acquisition of the art objects, I wasn’t concerned with the attempt to write a meaningful, deep memoir of objects, memory and family. I’m very willing to admit this as my failing rather than that of the book. So take the advice of the heaps of others and read it, but know that I found it resistant. And a little dull. Does this make me a terrible reader? Person? Maybe. But I made the commitment to stop reading books that didn’t move me (either for better or worse) and so I have with this one.
I’ve moved cities and so am doing all the usual sorts of new city things: buying plants, biking the major routes, joining book clubs. I found a book club on Wednesday, they met on Saturday, and so I put down the interminable Storm of Swords (no, my blogging hiatus has not been caused by depression or misery, but rather the result of GRRMartin not being able to write a concise plot) in order to pick up Jane Lynch’s totally terrible memoir, Happy Accidents.
What a waste of a day of reading. To think I might have been two hundred pages closer to done Storm of Swords. Or I might have mopped my floors, or written thank you letters, or stare vacantly into space. I can’t even begin to catalogue the ways this book fails. Well, that’s not true, I can, and I will. So here you go: While memoirs are inevitably narcissistic this one achieves a spectacular level of naval gazing, borne, I suspect, from the author’s occasionally observed (and then hastily dismissed) self-doubt and insecurity. Contributing to this reader’s annoyance with the narcissism is the dull account of a life. I’m not one to demand that memoirs only be written by extraordinary people, or by those for whom life has been exciting, challenging or unique; but I do expect a memoir to demonstrate some enthusiasm for the life being described, some general sense that it is worth me reading about. That there ought to be some kind of moral isn’t what I mean, more that there should be a anchoring question, much less mundane than: am I loveable? Or perhaps, just as mundane as that but then explicitly asked and curiously examined.
I’m going to stop before I rant too long about the prosaic language, the lack (get this!) of character development and the annoying tendency to assume that the author is the only person for whom life has been Difficult. I’ll just say that I’m not going to be returning to this particular book club. Even though all the other members found it terrible, I can’t find myself trusting another one of their recommendations. This book exacts too high a price in trying to find friends.