It’s like a heat wave…
Can’t keep from cryin’–”Heat Wave,” Linda Ronstadt
I will not even begin to say what I think about this heat wave (the worst since the Dust Bowl, the meteorologist cheerily said). I’m going to find a climate change protest group and chain myself to a fence somewhere.
It’s frustrating. I’ve been looking for my books all summer. Where are Kristin Lavransdatter (I’m halfway through the second book), my Poldark books, the copy of Pride and Prejudice that isn’t held together with duct tape… The list goes on and on.
Bookcases are huddled in our tiny study this summer because we had some “work done” and had to move the furniture. Bookcases block other bookcases, and it’s exasperating. By climbing over boxes, pulling books off a shelf, and then reaching my arm all the way to the back, I can occasionally find something.
But even though I can’t find what I’m looking for, I did find ten books I’ll never read. Does this ever happen to you? You find some books that have been on the shelf for years, and they may be good, they may be bad, but you decide to weed them?
And then you sit down and start to read them and you realize you do want to read them anyway?
Here are my TEN BOOKS I’LL NEVER READ. (Maybe.)
So I’ll weed it, I thought.
But now that I’ve taken it off the shelf and I’ve read a few pages, I feel that I must read it. It’s Lawrence on archaeology and art criticism and philosophy, his radical views on the Etruscans, and he’s fascinating.
“Most people despise everything B.C. that isn’t Greek, for the good reason that it ought to be Greek if it isn’t. So Etruscan things are put down as a feeble imitation. And a great scientific historian like Mommsen hardly allows that the Etruscans existed at all. Their existence was antipathetic to him.”
2. Valis by Philip K. Dick. A few years ago I picked up Philip K. Dick’s Valis at Borders after chatting with one of the SF fans who worked there (it was known as the “Science Fiction Borders,” because SF literacy seemed to be a prerequisite for employment there).
I’ve very much enjoyed a few of Dick’s books, but honestly, I just can’t read Valis. I’ve tried twice. According to the jacket blurb, “This disorienting and funny work is about a schizophrenic named Horselover Fat; the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity, and reality as revealed through a pink laser.”
It’s an experimental novel, with a very weird, humorous narrative broken by numbered journal entries about Fats’ religious beliefs, discussions of Yin and Yang, and doctors saying, “There is no way the Bach remedies can hurt you. They are not toxic chemicals…”
Very funny, very postmodern, but, no, it’s not for me. I’m weeding it.
Set 1,000 years ago in Japan, this novel is apparently an “epic romance” about a beautiful woman poet loved by a warlord and his devoted samurai. It seems to be quite well-written, but the time has come to weed it: I’m not interested in triangles this summer unless they’re created by Iris Murdoch.
4. Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford. Is it me, or is this Nancy’s worst book? The book jacket says it is “a hilarious satirical send-up of the political enthusiasms of her notorious sisters, Unity and Diana.” They were fascists, not very funny, though I can imagine Nancy needed to mock them. But I pick this novel up…put it down…pick it up…and now I can’t weed it because I finally made it to Chapter 2 and it’s improving.
No, I can never weed a book by Nancy Mitford.
The premise is: An actor, Robert Reynolds, known as Pickleherring, who says he played the great female roles like Cleopatra as a boy in Shakespeare’s troupe, now lives in the attic ot a whorehouse and writes his comical memoir of Shakespeare.
It is well-written, but the colloquial style palls quickly. There are too many interjections for my taste: “I must say,” “to tell the truth,” “I believe,” “Not wanting to lose my head,” “Remember”…
I’ll weed this one.
6. Chips off the Old Benchley by Robert Benchley. I cannot read Benchley. I bought this for $1 at a sale along with some other very good humor books, Cornelia Otis Skinner’s Soap Behind the Ears and Patrick Dennis’s Auntie Mame.
And I discovered that I cannot read Benchley.
I’m weeding it.
7. Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter. Angela Carter’s novels are brilliant. I love her retold fairy tales, her fantasies, and her magic realism. Nights at the Circus and The Bloody Chamber are among my favorite books.
But, alas, I can’t read this one. Published in 1965, it is a post-apocalyptic novel about professors in steel and concrete villages, barbarians, and Marianne, a professor’s daughter. Thought I could read this but it’s ZZZZZZZZZ.
I must weed it.
It seems unlikely, but I did like The Alexandria Quartet.
9. The John Fante Reader. The description on the book jacket compares Fante to Hemingway and the Beats. I read a review of this long ago and bought it for a family member.
No one wants to read it. Perhaps I will read it.
It looks too good to weed.
10. Robert Stevenson’s Kidnapped. When a friend sent me this Capuchin Classics edition of Kidnapped, I suddenly realized my dislike of Treasure Island needn’t extend to his other books. It’s very short and looks perfect for a summer day.
So, no, I won’t weed it, though originally that’s what I thought.
I’m glad to see there are only Five Books I’ll Never Read!