In the past, whenever I started reading a book I felt a compunction to finish. Even when I discovered by the second or third page a book was horribly written, I still felt compelled to slog through. Maybe it’s the fact I felt the writer slaved over a computer (or a typewriter- you remember those?) to get all those words on the page. The least I could do is acceptingly read what they wrote. Maybe the book gods were watching over my shoulder, spurring me on to the finish. Perhaps it was a reciprocal thing- someday if I ever wrote a book, I hoped when someone starts, they’d be forced to finish like I did- even if it’s really bad.
Now days, my guilty conscience has been assuaged. I realize there are so many books to read (all you need to do is look at the piles of books on my nightstand), I would need to be locked in solitary confinement doing nothing but reading all day and night just to make it through one-tenth of one percent of all the books I could possibly get my ink smudged fingers onto. I don’t have that kind of time, and I suppose, neither do you. So, when a book is bad I’ve learned to toss it aside and move on. No guilt.
Then comes the book that is so seemingly bad it is like the horrible wreck at a busy intersection- you slow down, bob your head to get a better view, see the carnage, and yet, you can’t look away. I recently picked up a book which not only made me slow down on the drive-by, but I made a U-turn and came back for more.
As I started reading Him Her Him Again The End of Him by Patricia Marx I nearly put the book down and moved on to the next book in the pile. But, I couldn’t. I desperately wanted to pick up the next book with glowing pre-publication reviews but my hands wouldn’t let go. The wreck was just too gory to be missed. But I soon discovered, it wasn’t the book that was a wreck, it was the characters- and what a wonderfully bloody wreck they were.
The entire time I am reading (and now enjoying) this book, I am screaming at narrator (who remains unnamed throughout) to give up her obsession with Eugene Obello, a narcissistic teaching fellow she meets while attending school at Cambridge who has a gift for using, or thoroughly misusing the English language. Though he uses her, marries another women, comes back to her for an affair, uses her some more, ignores her, and uses her once again, she cannot move beyond this ultimate cad- or can she? Everyone she knows can see Eugene for what he really is and tells her as much, but she doesn’t believe they know him as she does. I laughed, I didn’t cry, I laughed again and finished the book- my conscience only guilty with pleasure.
The book is currently out in hardcover with the paperback coming out in February 2008.