There is nothing more exciting for me than going to the bookstore and browsing through the hundreds and hundreds of titles on display. This was a habit that began when I was a child. My mother would take me to the bookstore in the mall, about once a month, and allowed me to pick out anything I wanted. I loved the smell when I first walked in; clean yet musty. I anticipated opening the new books and just sniffing them. Every book smelled subtly different; each had a different combination of chemically-gluey-inky-woody-plasticky-boxy. I could have spent hours in there, but mom would get impatient and ask me to hurry. She’d buy me a handful of books and I couldn’t wait to get home to read them. I always read the endings first, so I knew ahead of time what was going to happen. It was like getting lost in my own island paradise, and never having to leave.
I love the thought of books even more now. The look, the feel, the texture, the way they wear out when I read them, or how the spines crease and wrinkle because I put them to good use. I get excited when time comes to open a new book, and luckily, my habit of reading the ending first is no longer an issue. As I grew older, I started to love the element of surprise. But there is nothing worse for me, than when that excitement wears off because a book never ends. You know what I’m talking about: that oh-so-common book that starts off so well, but eventually dwindles and dies down, becoming way too long, and taking forever to finish.
Currently, I am reading We Were the Mulvaneys by the incomparable Joyce Carol Oates. As a fan of her short fiction and non-fiction, the thought of starting the book was exciting. While it was a bit slow at first, the story was captivating and the language mesmerizing and gorgeous, as expected of Oates. But that quickly wore off, and I am having an incredibly hard time finishing the novel. It seems as though my excitement for it has worn off, and now, I just want it to end, and finishing it has become a struggle.
I guess the best thing for me to do is put the book aside and read something else, then come back to it. A part of me wants nothing more than to do this, but I fear I’ll never get back to the book, and won’t finish it. And I’m the kind of person who needs to finish what he starts. Worse yet, I’ll feel like I’ll be cheating on Oates if I put her aside for another writer, and I can’t bear the thought of that. She’s too special, regardless.
It’s been three days since I’ve picked up the book, and I usually can’t read more than five pages at a time. I have less than 100 pages to go, out of 454, so I’m almost there, but not quite. I feel the story could have been more captivating with less description. I don’t need every little detail spelled out, I can visualize what the town looks like using my imagination, thank you very much. I don’t need 20 pages of the author telling me. Then again, I like more simplistic writing. This book suffers from overwriting, which hurts it, more than helps it, and makes a wonderful character story seem tedious.
But We Were the Mulvaneys is not the only book that never ends. I’m sure there are countless other novels out there that suffer the same fate. I know I’ve read a few that have since slipped from memory, hopefully never to emerge again. Of course, it all depends on the reader and their taste. Perhaps another reader might feel We Were the Mulvaneys is too short, and wanted more of it. So maybe it’s appropriate to ask my readers, if I have any at this point, what book they think should have been shorter, or what book wasn’t long enough?
Comment below, or not.
The Accidental Blogger