Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year, New 30 Day Book Challenge, Day 12

Day 12: A Book You Used to Love But Don't Anymore


I think in order to answer this question in any meaningful way, I would have to re-read some books that I suspect that I may not love as much as I once thought I did. I am much too lazy to do that. It also kind of sounds like a downer of an idea, so why bother?

Having said that, I am sure there are a few books that I read when I was younger that I may not have the same passion for as an adult. I thought I could pick a few titles from different times of my life and we could talk this through together.

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, or Fahrenheit 451 probably wouldn’t resonate with me like they did twenty years ago, but they probably shouldn’t since they are young adult novels. I went through phases where I read a zillion Bronte novels and plowed through a handful of Hemingway books, and then read a ton of John Irving and Ann Tyler.  I can’t imagine not still loving The Cider House Rules, or The Accidental Tourist. Hemingway is important to read if you’re going to bitch about him, and I will always love the time I spent reading Bronte and Austen. 

The novels that I suspect I would feel very differently about if I read them again would probably include Memoirs of a Geisha and The Da Vinci Code. I don’t know why I loved Memoirs of a Geisha so much, but I really got caught up in it. I was working at a bookstore and just sold the hell out of it.  I can’t imagine loving it the way I did when the book was originally published. Now, The Da Vinci Code, I went totally ape shit about because it was original but mostly because it pissed off the Catholic powers that be. That was a fun time.

I was looking through my books while I was thinking about this question and came across a book that I absolutely adored, which was published about twenty years ago, called Life After God by Douglas Coupland. I thought, “Well here is a book I totally went overboard with, and no way no how will I still find it relevant.” I had dog-eared about fifty pages and after re-reading those pages I’ve decided that I still love this book. Its just the right amount of depressing.

I realized that once people are broken in certain ways they can't ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one.”  -- from Life After God


So, to be clear, Gianna did not actually answer the question for the day.  Also, she liked Memoirs of a Geisha, which I hated.  She's a constant disappointment.

I once again perused the ol' Goodreads archives and discovered that I gave The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen five stars.  Let's go back a decade and remember the excitement surrounding this publication.  Everyone was crazy about this book. It was a sensation--a contemporary family story of dysfunction that was both literary and juicy. Before Oprah, before the National Book Award, Jonathan Franzen was just a geeky chic writer fulfilling his literary promise.  I drank the Kool-Aid.

That was then.

Now...well, I read Freedom, Franzen's most recent novel, and it's basically the same book as The Corrections. And Franzen has proven several times that he can't accept praise graciously, can't debate without name calling, and can't enter a room without bumping his oversized ego on the door frame. His personality has soured me on The Corrections a bit.  As time has passed, I've discovered what great books were nominated but didn't win the National Book Award in 2001.  Look at Me by Jennifer Egan, Among the Missing by our pal Dan Chaon, The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse by this year's winner Louise Erdrich, and Highwire Moon by underappreciated talent Susan Straight. In hindsight, I would have picked any of the others.  I don't hate The Corrections, but it will never be one of my favorite books anymore.

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