What is it about the Classics??


I have yet again, started a book and walked away from it. And the worst part is, it’s a classic. Deemed so reader-worthy by The Modern Library as one of the top 100 novels of our time. And I just couldn’t do it.

The first book I put down and returned to the library shamelessly: Ulysses. I thought, Irish author, Irish part of town, I’m definitely going to enjoy this. I don’t remember how far I got, but it wasn’t far at all. Like not even a small dent.

And alas, it has happened again. This time: The Three Musketeers. Now before you start judging and telling me what type of literary amazingness I simply do not understand, know this: I rarely in my life have ever walked away from a book. Even if I don’t like it, I keep reading it. Solely as a respect to the author and countless team members who worked to put this piece of work out there.

On my quest of library card greatness, I decided to start reading some classics to help balance my current intake of nonfiction stories, chick lit and mysteries. Maybe I’m just not cut out for the Classics after all, but I would hate to think this as I like to think I’m well-versed among the literary world.

Clearly I’m not. I think my problem with the Musketeers was simple: the French names. I couldn’t keep them straight. Now in Suite Francaise, I had no problem. I remembered everything solely because the topic at hand (WWII and hiding) was of interest to me. Reading 90+ pages and being unsure of what just happened doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not impatient, just someone who likes to be in the loop.

Should anyone have a Classic they deem worthy of my attention span, please do let me know. While I’ve read most in Western Civ 2 (a personal favorite was The Canterbury Tales, or shall I say “favourite?”), I fear I have read next to nothing on The Modern Library’s list. And at this point, I’m wondering what these librarians were on when they created this…

But rest assured, the evening is not spoiled. Do yourself a favor and grab David Gray’s latest album, Foundling. Sounds a lot like Life in Slow Motion. Can we also point out this guy is a song-writin’, album-makin’ genius/god?

2 responses »

  1. I hear what you’re saying. I’ve had to abandon a book or two myself because I couldn’t seem to crack its code. I did notice that quite a few of the books on The Modern Library’s list have been made into films. If you find one of those that moved you, you might find a book on the list that you can enjoy. “The Age of Innocence” is, for me, every bit as splendid as Martin Scorsese’s onscreen tribute. I do recognize how silly it probably is to say that, but I have had the unfortunate experience of not liking a book as much as its filmed version. I saw “Wide Sargasso Sea” years ago with my sister, and although neither of us could figure out exactly what was happening, it was such an intense and beautiful experience that seeing it on the list makes me want to give reading the book a try. Anyway, good luck with your future literary excursions.

    • Ré,

      Thanks for the “Age of Innocence” rec (both the book and film!). Adding it to my library list as we speak. Glad to know I’m not alone on my search (or lack thereof) on literary greatness…

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