Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let's Just Kiss and Say Goodbye: The DNF Files

I can't believe how many books I didn't finish this year. Most of the following I've given up on utterly and completely, but a couple were accidental DNFs and I'll rectify the situation in 2010.

Anne Of Windy Poplars
- L.M. Montgomery. Anne is the principal of a school in the land of those windy poplars. Gilbert is in medical school. They're engaged, but in a holding pattern until Gilbert completes his studies. Anne is an avid correspondent, but I was eager to skip ahead in the series and see them happy and together, so I abandoned AOWP after about 3 chapters. After reading Montgomery's superb Anne's House of Dreams, I'm not sorry, either.

Dusty Answer - Rosamond Lehmann. I think it was my mood at the time. Everyone was teenaged and gloomy and British upper? middle? class and I just couldn't care. Back to the library. Damn shame -- I do love that title.

Dressing Up For The Carnival - Carol Shields. Shields used a lot of the material in these stories for her excellent novel, Unless, which I had just recently read and enjoyed.

A Cry From The Heart: The Biography Of Edith Piaf - Margaret Crosland. Big, big BIG disappointment! I love Piaf's music, I loved the movie La Vie En Rose (AKA La Mome), and in the A&E Biography episode about Piaf, author Crosland made so many witty and insightful comments. Impressed, I rushed out and ordered this book, but it was a mistake. The prose is so heavy, turgid, dreadful -- not worthy of Piaf at all. If you haven't read this book yet, you should run right out and avoid it.

Crossing Border Street: A Civil Rights Memoir - Peter Jan Honigsberg. Honigsberg is a lawyer and I'm sure he writes one hell of a brief, but memoir is just not his thing.

Land - Park Kyung-Ni. I'm disappointed with myself for not being able to get through Volume I of The Great Korean Novel, but Park jumps around too much from character to character and there's no time and no effort made to help me identify with anyone or to even keep about 30 characters straight. After reading 42% of the book, I couldn't go another step. In order to make amends to Korean literature, my plan is to procure a copy of Who Ate Up All The Shinga? an autobiographical novel by Park Wan-Seo, who also wrote Three Days In That Autumn, a novella that I read and loved.

The Borrowers - Mary Norton. I started this children's literature classic, but my mood was off and I couldn't get into the story. I intend to take another whack at it this year. It's become one of my primary goals to fill in my KidLit gaps.

Hemingway - Kenneth S. Lynn. This guy's main idea about Hemingway is that he was all obsessed with manliness and machismo because for the first 5-6 years of his life, his mother dressed him like a little girl. That's very interesting, but when Lynn tries to apply this to every effing thing that Hemingway ever did in his entire (1899-1961) life as well as every damn thing he ever wrote, it's maddening and boring, although I have to admit that for a while, it was perversely entertaining to watch this guy contort himself unmercifully, as he struggled to make it all fit neatly. I finally had enough of watching him strain towards the end of Hemingway's Paris years and returned the book to my colleague, Brian.

Dodsworth - Sinclair Lewis. I checked this out shortly after I became acquainted with the Bybee-ary. Unfortunately, after nearly 5 years of not having a library, I had forgotten about nasty things like due dates. Shortly after Dodsworth and his wife got to Europe, I had to return this 1929 novel to the library. I'm sorry, Red. You know I love your novels. I'll be back to fetch Dodsworth out again.


Heather J. said...

Is LAND the same book that you had been looking for for so long? I remember you writing about one particular "classic Korean" novel that was tremendously long ... It's too bad that you had to give it up, but COMPLETELY understandable!

Bybee said...

Yes, "Land" and "Toji" are one and the same. "Toji" is the Korean title.

teabird said...

The Borrowers (series) were amongst my favorites when I was a child - I still remember them slicing up a roasted almond for dinner!
Do try that one again -

Sam Sattler said...

I gave up on 10 books this year, 5 more than last year. I guess I'm twice as impatient with a bad book as I was two years ago. Not enough time, too many good books...

Bybee said...

Now I'm even more resolved to read The Borrowers after you told about slicing the almond. I don't know how this book slipped by me when I was a kid.

We seem to have been in the same frame of mind! And you know what? It doesn't really pain me to admit to my DNFs anymore...well, except for Toji/Land.

Heather J. said...

Ah well, that's how it goes. :( Hope you're having a wonderful new year!

Susan said...

Not bad! I didn't give up on any, but the books I'm 'permanently reading' seem to stay the same on my blog side bar!!!! lol At least the Shorter Pepys is 1,000 pages long.....And Anne of Windy Populars is one of the weakest books, but does introduce Catherine, who becomes a good friend of Anne's so you do have to meet her (oops, I do think it's this one, maybe it was Anne's House of Dreams?)