Monday, October 1, 2012
I'm Not Impressed... Yet
Two years... read eighty books and write one. That's the tag line of an MFA program, and here I am, on my last book. And... like McKayla, I'm not impressed.
When I first started the program, I had to come up with a reading list, and so I asked all of you. What great books are out there I must absolutely know about and read?
I asked my crit group, and the first book one person suggested was A Prayer for Owen Meany. I looked it up on Amazon and saw that the book ran 642 pages and wrote her back, "Are you trying to kill me??"
But I've had many people since then tell me to read it, rave about it, tell me it's their favorite book ever. And since I've read books like Cutting for Stone, Edgar Sawetelle, and the behemoth doorstop A Soldier of the Great War (weighing in at 727 pages), what's one more long book?
So I started it this week as my last book. And I have to say... I'm not feeling it yet.
Okay - I'm not that far into it. About 50 pages, which isn't that far in a book this size. But something my advisor and this program have tried to pound into me is starting in the action, keeping a story in the action, moving things along and not letting the story linger too long on things not imperative to the plot. And this book is just meandering right now, and full of details that don't at all seem important.
I take it it's a character driven story, and since Owen just killed Johnny's mom with a foul ball, I'm guessing things are about to amp up. But still... there's just not the language I love to stew in or the plot compelling me forward. I'm hoping it will get better. I'm expecting still to find some gem in it.
I wonder if all the ravings about it raised my expectations too high? I've found the books I come to with huge expectations of greatness nearly always let me down, and those I don't know or expect much of are the ones that blow me away.
I'll keep plodding on. Maybe by the end of today I'll have totally and completely fallen in love with it. Maybe it will be one of my favorites, too. I'm hoping.. because 652 pages is a lot to not like.
If you've read this book and loved it, what is it that impressed you?
And why does Owen Meany talk in all capitals??
Tell me, blogging friends, have you been disappointed in books that others have hyped up to you? Do you prefer to come to a book with high expectations or none at all?
***UPDATE: I finished Owen Meany and... I'm still not all that impressed. I admit the ending did make up for some of the earlier aspects I didn't love, and it was a more tightly-knit story than it appeared to be during the first 400 pages. But this is not a book I'll be thinking of years from now and want to pull out and read again, I don't think.