Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sometimes I'm a Quitter

Before starting this entry, a couple of "housekeeping" comments.  First, and most important of all...

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Second, I encourage everyone to read this entry by Rob Rummel-Hudson about an important subject that most of us probably don't think about at all 99% of the time.  

I sort of gave up on a book this week.  It was Nicolai Gogol's classic Russian novel, "Dead Souls."  Gogol, who lived 1819-1898, was considered one of Russia's top "realistic" writers.  "Dead Souls" is that rare Russian novel--a comedy, meant to expose corruption in the Russian government.

I did kind of get into the story of Chichikov who travels to a town where he is not known and puts on the airs of a rich landowner.  In truth he's there to buy "dead souls," the servants of the noble people who still remain on the books and on whom a tax must be paid until the next census (which may not occur for 10 years).   The plan is to register these "dead souls" under his own name and use them to prove his worth to his local government so that they can be used as collateral on a big bank loan that he will use to actually build the estate he claims to own.

We meet a number of interesting and definitely eccentric rich people who eventually sell their dead souls to Chichikov and he becomes such a favorite of the town that when he has purchased all he wants, they encourage him to stay and promise that they will find a good wife for him.  This is a guy who knows when to hold 'em, but does not know when to fold 'em.  The truth about himself and his plans is uncovered and he is forced to leave the town without souls, without money, without honor.

That's Part 1.  That's when I quit.  I had a month to work on this book, and I usually read a book a week, but I am still only half finished with it...and the book club meeting to discuss it was tonight.  While I have enjoyed it in bits and pieces, it does seem to go on...and on...and on...and on repetitiously until you just want to say "Get on with it already!"  A James Patterson thriller it ain't.

I considered not going to the book club, but I was interested to see what others thought of the book, so I did go.  It was a small turnout, so I suspect others were in the same boat I was.  But of the 7 of us who were there, one had not read the book, one had read it in college but hadn't finished it this time, one had finished it, and the others were still working on it.  So I was able to be part of the discussion after all, and was glad to see that my feelings about it, and my thoughts about the character and the plot development were pretty much in agreement with what others thought.

I'm actually not completely finished with this book.  I think I'd like to continue reading it to its completion, but know that I have frustration ahead of me because Gogol never actually finished it, and, in fact, the book ends mid-sentence.   From what I read in notes about the book, the section that I read (Book 1) is the part that everyone tends to remember (maybe because nobody actually gets to Book 2?) 

Next month's book, "The Stupidest Angel" (a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror) by Christopher Moore (who also wrote "Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's  Childhood Pal") should be a bit easier going, and more fun!

In the meantime there is James Patterson's "Zoo," which has been touted as the definitive Patterson, the book "Patterson was meant to write," and "the best Patterson ever," which I am, so far, finding as pretty stupid.   But it may pick up. His books often do.

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