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Hard to read, the fiction.

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by denimdestroyedmylife, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

    Mar 4, 2002
    Proust is infinitely readable.

    well, you have a pony tail. maybe manton could ignore the rest. I assume you like win. [​IMG]
  2. Brian SD

    Brian SD Senior member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Gravity's Rainbow ground to a halt in my brain about 50 pages in. I think I could read it if I just poured myself into it without stopping over a weekend. There's a tipping point that needs to be reached with books like that. I read Absalom, Absalom! that way and it worked.
    This is exactly what I was just about to say. I really, really wanted to get into Gravity's rainbow, but my brain kept hurting everytime I tried to keep track of the million different generations of information in each damn paragraph. I can't even figure out when he starts back into the narrative.
  3. prozach1576

    prozach1576 Senior member

    Aug 13, 2006
    I hear Woody Allen's voice...

    Deconstructing Harry?

    At the risk of derailing, I saw Interiors for the first time recently. Very Bergman, but easily his best serious picture. Amazed it took me so long to get around to it.

    Yeah, it doesn't get enough praise because people dismiss it as simply a good Bergman tribute, but it's a stunning film in its own right.
  4. gvibes

    gvibes Senior member

    May 14, 2007
    The other book that I've failed at in recent memory is Gene Wolfe's Peace. It's incredibly dense and obtuse, almost as much as The Book of the New Sun (another top five work for me).
    Gene Wolfe is awesome, but I haven't tried Peace yet.
  5. Cordovan

    Cordovan Senior member

    Feb 13, 2008
    I recently picked up Bleak House by Dickens, and then just decided it was too much to read for now. I have a stack of unread books sitting by my bedside so it just went lower on the list.

    Right now reading vol 1 of "The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill", but also quite long ... and it doesn't even get to the WW II years. Those 8 years are in vol 2.
  6. The Wayfarer

    The Wayfarer Senior member

    Jan 31, 2008
    i'm reading William Burroughs' Naked Lunch now and based on how far i've gotten i'd say this is the quintessential 'hard to read' novel. The imagery and descriptive language he uses is nothing short of brilliant though.

    I made it about halfway through and had to put it down. While it is undeniable that the book is beautifully written, it just struck me as a garbled mess upon my first attempt. I wanted to like it, I really did, but... [​IMG]

    I'll have to give it another try soon.
  7. cheessus

    cheessus Senior member

    Feb 12, 2008
    Palo Alto/Santa Clara
    Oe Kenzaburo.

    I don't know if something is lost in translation or what, but his shit is just hard to read. My first experience with him was in my Japanese Literature class 5 years ago ([​IMG] ). When I read the Pinch Runner Memorandum, it made absolutely no sense, but thanks to that class, I was able to somewhat understand it, and appreciate it a great deal. But having tried to read some of his other works, I'm at a loss...
  8. Teger

    Teger Senior member

    Mar 14, 2008
    Richmond, VA
    I think like 95% of people who claim to have read Ulysses / any James Joyce besides The Dubliners are lying.

    The hardest books for me to read that I actually finished are probably Atlas Shrugged, The Scarlet Letter and Gravity's Rainbow.

    One of the few books I tried to read and just said 'fuck it' and threw it away was Godel, Escher and Bach. Fuck. That. Noise.

    I've also for some reason never been able to finish The Two Towers or Catch 22.
  9. Pennglock

    Pennglock Senior member

    Mar 20, 2006
    What do we mean by hard to read?

    Hard to get into, as in doesn't hold the attention? For me this is usually less a question of subject matter and has more to do with the quality of the writer. Unconvincing characters/dialogue, cliche, cheap gimicry and unsubtle political bias are usually force me to put a book down. The most recent book I gave up on was House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (not to be confused with the brilliant Andre Dubus Sr.) because the book was total shit.

    Difficult to grasp all the layers of meaning? Shakespeare. Every re-reading seems to reveal something new.

    Impossible to follow the action/story/argument paragraph to paragraph? I don't think Ive encountered any well-written work in my adult life where this was the case. For the intelligent person, this really shouldn't be a problem unless the skill of the writer is poor, and in the case of classic fiction, which is writing and nothing else, this rarely seems to be a problem. Ive run into problems in philosophy and science texts, though, where translations and the writers expository skill can become issues. Kant was a big problem for me.
  10. JetBlast

    JetBlast Senior member

    Jan 3, 2007
    Los Angeles / London
    Ian McEwan's "Atonement". I have no reasonable idea of why I couldn't finish it.
  11. denimdestroyedmylife

    denimdestroyedmylife Senior member

    Mar 20, 2006
    i can't recall if i posted this in this thrak already but 1001 nights (or arabian nights) destroyed me.
    the problem was i think i was trying to hard to keep track of what layer of the glass onion i was in.
    for those of you that aren't familiar with it----there must be a few---it is constructed so that it is a story within a story within a story... i love what i read of it (more than half) but the edition i was reading must have been 70 plus years old with pages falling out and literally crumbling under my fingers. i feel like i must start it from scratch.


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