April 8

Hypnotically Suspenseful? I Don’t Think So


It used to be that whenever I started reading a book I always finished it.

Well, that’s not counting the first couple of times I attempted to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I kept stumbling to a halt in The Fellowship of the Ring, at the Council of Elrond. So much talking! But then one day I picked up the book and started reading from the beginning once more and raced through to the end.

But, apart from The Lord of the Rings, I always, always finished reading a book I started. Even if I didn’t like it that much. And it was pretty rare I didn’t like a book back then. When I say back then, I mean the olden days when I was a young teen. You know, when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Things are different now. And no, I’m not talking about dinosaurs anymore.

Nowadays it’s much more common for me to give up reading a book.

There’s a feeling of guilt there, I must admit. And sometimes I struggle on, reading well past the point where I should have stopped but continuing in the false hope that it will get better. Or that I will become better at reading it, at understanding it.

Take Night Film, by Marisha Pessl for example. On the face of it, it ticks all my boxes (and I do love having my boxes ticked).

It’s a thriller.

It’s about movies.

It features a reclusive film director whose films are very hard to actually track down and see.

It has even got photographs and newspaper clippings and web pages in there, and the ebook has interactive elements to it.

Sounds right up my street.

Well, I dragged it out for a few hundred pages more than I should have done. I had reached about the two thirds mark before I decided, rather guiltily, to give up and read something else. This was a week ago, and still the book is hanging around, my bookmark still in place, and it is gnawing away at my conscience, demanding to be picked up and given one more chance.

But no, I can’t take anymore.

Hypnotically suspenseful? I don’t think so, Mr Child.

So I turned instead to the Complete stories of Flannery O’Connor.

I’m a fan of Harry Crews and after reading one reviewer describe him as Flannery O’Connor on steroids I had to search out her stories.

I’d bought this book a while back and already read the first few stories.

Here I go again, not completing a book.

But I picked it up once more and continued from where I left off. Her stories are, and I know you are going to roll your eyes at this, but they are strange. I mean, they are just plain weird.

And not weird in a supernatural, ghostly way, or aliens or monsters or whatever. The closest I can come to comparing her with, apart from Harry Crews, is David Lynch. But without the violence and the overt stylism.

Some of the stories might come to a vague conclusion, but often they don’t. Quite often I feel infuriated by the end. Not in a ‘But what happened next?’ kind of way. More of a ‘What the hell was that all about?’ kind of way.

But, the more I read, the more I have started to find them satisfying, in a way that Night Film was never going to feel.

Anyway, I’ve stopped reading Flannery O’Connor now. I can’t binge read her stories. They are too off kilter and laden with, I don’t know, something, for me to just plough on through reading one after another.

Encoh Emery appears in three stories, and this is the first one. He drove me me mad at first, but then I sort of grew to like him. Sort of.

So now I am reading Eden, by Tim Smit, a biography if you like of the Eden Project. I bought this book in the Eden Project shop when we were there last week. I love the Eden Project, but that wasn’t particularly the reason I bought the book. No, I am more intrigued by how someone goes from coming up with an idea of something this complicated and grand and amazing and gets to the point where it is done and completed.

And for a book that is full of talk about plants and horticulture, about architecture and town council meetings and the practicalities of Millenium funding, of drainage and clay and regeneration, well, I have to say I’m finding it to be a gripping, exciting read.

Tim Smit’s positivity and utter conviction shines through the pages.

Much more fun than Night Film.

I reckon I will read this one to the end.

But I’m not going back to Night Film.

No matter how guilty it makes me feel.


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