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Old 12-05-2012, 05:59 PM   #401
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I went on a long streak of finishing every book that I started and it was Anthropology of an American Girl that finally broke it. Everyone was raving about it at the time. Individual paragraphs in that book were so gorgeous you could frame them, but the book as a whole was a mess.
I was like that when I tried to read Vellum by Hal Duncan. It was beautifully written and there were some amazing ideas in that made me really want to finish it but it just got way too confusing for me to be able to follow.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:31 AM   #402
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I was like that when I tried to read Vellum by Hal Duncan. It was beautifully written and there were some amazing ideas in that made me really want to finish it but it just got way too confusing for me to be able to follow.
I have that book (somewhere in my bin of not-going-to-read-any-time-soon books). I remember I started it, read a few pages, and was so confused I stopped reading and never opened it again...
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:47 AM   #403
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For those who have detested Heart of Darkness, some understanding and some comments:

I once read a commentary by a critic who said "Students are taught to hate William Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury". He was exactly right. Sound&Fury is absolutely not the first Faulkner novel you should read. Nor the second nor the third.

Which doesn't mean it's a bad or unrewarding novel. Just that it's difficult, until you have absorbed more of what Faulkner's writing is about.

The same thing applies to Heart of Darkness. Conrad shares a lot of similar qualities with Faulkner. He is not the simplest, most transparent of fiction writers, and his writing has an evolutionary track. He has a prose rhythm and quality different from a lot of writers, and worthy of cultivation. But you don't start with H of D. You start with things like the shorts "The Lagoon" and "Youth" and "Falk" and the novels Almayer's Folly, An Outcast of the Islands, Lord Jim and Victory. Then maybe Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes. Then read Heart of Darkness.

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Old 12-06-2012, 12:28 PM   #404
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I just couldn't get to the end of The Cloud Atlas. I gave up three times and the last one stuck. -_-
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Old 12-26-2012, 08:56 PM   #405
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A Prayer For Owen Meany. The extent to which I hated it shocked me, because The World According To Garp is one of my favorite books of all-time. But I really didn't care at all about the characters, and the story just kind of dragged on. Yet, almost everyone I know who's read it loves the book. Maybe I'll give it another shot soon.
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Old 12-26-2012, 09:15 PM   #406
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It's always been Dune, and it will always be Dune.
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Old 12-26-2012, 09:20 PM   #407
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anything by Dickens
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:18 AM   #408
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Life of Pi. I don't get the hype around this novel, I keep reading and reading thinking it's going to get better, but I was bored to tears!
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:24 AM   #409
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I flew through the first two books in the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. And when I tried to read the third, it just kept stalling for me. 7 years later, it's still in my TBR pile, but I don't think I'll ever get back to it.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:32 AM   #410
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It's always been Dune, and it will always be Dune.
Thanks for this! So glad I'm not the only one. It's not that I dislike any particular thing about the book--in fact, there's a lot I like very much--but I just can't make myself care enough to finish it. I've tried twice.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:34 AM   #411
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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Between him and what I've seen of Dickens, I can't help but wonder if there was a bubonic plague or something that only took out editors during the 19th century, because holy-shmoly did these guys need 'em.
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Old 01-10-2013, 05:57 AM   #412
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I flew through the first two books in the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. And when I tried to read the third, it just kept stalling for me. 7 years later, it's still in my TBR pile, but I don't think I'll ever get back to it.
Wow, this is really discouraging. I've read the first book and while it was a struggle in many ways I enjoyed it a lot. Probably the most immersive experience I've ever had with a book, but the plot was all over the place. It gave me the sense that it was more or less just set up for the next three books. I read the first few chapters of book two and found even more of the meandering, direction-less plot from the first book and wound up putting it down. Was hoping if I got through book two it would finally pick up.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:02 AM   #413
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I'm trying so hard to finish The Three Musketeers. I loved, loved The Count of Monte Cristo, and I like Dumas in general. I just read a page, though, and fall asleep. It just goes on, and on, and on....
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:34 AM   #414
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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Between him and what I've seen of Dickens, I can't help but wonder if there was a bubonic plague or something that only took out editors during the 19th century, because holy-shmoly did these guys need 'em.
A lot of those books were serialized and paid by the word. Not all of them, but definitely Dickens. (And I'm not saying it excuses the wordiness, but yeah, I think that was a big factor.)
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:38 AM   #415
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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
Another Faulkner/Conrad kind of thing for a lot of people. It's Hugo's most ambitious and whaley novel. His other two classics, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the mystifyingly-neglected The Man Who Laughs are better introductories to Hugo.

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Old 01-10-2013, 08:42 PM   #416
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Wow, this is really discouraging. I've read the first book and while it was a struggle in many ways I enjoyed it a lot. Probably the most immersive experience I've ever had with a book, but the plot was all over the place. It gave me the sense that it was more or less just set up for the next three books. I read the first few chapters of book two and found even more of the meandering, direction-less plot from the first book and wound up putting it down. Was hoping if I got through book two it would finally pick up.
Sorry I felt like I slowly lost steam through book 2 (Claw) and I really wanted to give the rest of the series a fighting chance. I think this is the only book I've ever put down without finishing.

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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Between him and what I've seen of Dickens, I can't help but wonder if there was a bubonic plague or something that only took out editors during the 19th century, because holy-shmoly did these guys need 'em.
This hurts Les Miserables in French or English is one of my top 3 novels of all time. I've read all of Hugo, so I guess that makes a difference. His character development is what every writer should dream of being able to achieve. Yes, the description of the sewer system was wordy, but necessary to his plot.

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Another Faulkner/Conrad kind of thing for a lot of people. It's Hugo's most ambitious and whaley novel. His other two classics, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the mystifyingly-neglected The Man Who Laughs are better introductories to Hugo.
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:57 AM   #417
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I have a respect/dislike thing with Gormenghast. I read Titus Groan, after several false starts I finally finished it. It starts slow, but does get better. I got a couple hundred pages into Gormenghast, and I just found something else to read. Yeah, the place is full of repressed, tradition-obsessed freaks and it rains a lot. I just start wishing it would rain here.

I will go back and finish it and probably even read Titus Alone at some point, but it's a hard slog.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:36 AM   #418
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Yeah, I liked bits of the first two Gormenghast books. Tried to read Titus Alone but didn't get very far; kept suffering hemorrages trying to figure out how the hell the world depicted in Alone worked with the one depicted in the previous books. Plus Titus was never that compelling a character. Now, Steerpike on the other hand...
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:17 AM   #419
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I flew through the first two books in the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe. And when I tried to read the third, it just kept stalling for me. 7 years later, it's still in my TBR pile, but I don't think I'll ever get back to it.
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Wow, this is really discouraging. I've read the first book and while it was a struggle in many ways I enjoyed it a lot. Probably the most immersive experience I've ever had with a book, but the plot was all over the place. It gave me the sense that it was more or less just set up for the next three books. I read the first few chapters of book two and found even more of the meandering, direction-less plot from the first book and wound up putting it down. Was hoping if I got through book two it would finally pick up.
You guys are talking about his tetralogy, right? I was able to get through it, but it took me 6 months of picking it up and putting it back down. Nothing about that series is easy, and I'll admit there were points throughout when my interest seriously wavered and I had to force myself through. His plot is indeed all over the place, but his worldbuilding is AMAZING and his prose blows me away. I feel privileged to have read it.

That being said, the sequel to his tetralogy -- "Urth of the New Sun" I just couldn't get into. According to my BF (an avid Gene Wolfe fan) the sequel plays off a lot of plot points from his tetralogy, and when I realized that, I stopped even trying to read it, because there was so much I must have glazed over in the tetralogy and I knew it would be a looong time (if ever) before I read it again.


Other than that, my worst offenders have to be -- Moby Dick and The Great Gatsby, neither of which I could finish.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:45 PM   #420
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His plot is indeed all over the place, but his worldbuilding is AMAZING and his prose blows me away. I feel privileged to have read it.
So right. His prose is one of a kind and I really liked his style, but I just kept getting hung up on the plot. It stalled too many times for me. And really, this is the only series or book I ever put down and didn't get back to.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant drove me crazy at times, to the point of actually throwing the book in disgust. But I always came back to them and read all 6 books in the original 2 series within a few months.
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:16 AM   #421
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The Road, Cormac McCarthy. The prose is beautiful, evocative, masterful and I had to quit before I slashed my wrists from the sense of hopelessness it evokes.

War and Peace. No. Just, no. Bored beyond imagination.

I have learned that as much as I love the Russian composers, my appreciation of Russian literature seems to be non-existent.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:53 PM   #422
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War and Peace. No. Just, no. Bored beyond imagination.

my appreciation of Russian literature seems to be non-existent.
Same here, sort of. I've tried to read Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment on several occasions, but never made it past the first 150 pages. I put forth a serious effort but never got into 'em, even though I tried both the Pevear/Volokhonsky and Garnett translations.

I haven't given up on Russian literature, however. I'm planning to give Tolstoy a try sometime in the near future, probably War and Peace.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:18 PM   #423
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I haven't given up on Russian literature, however. I'm planning to give Tolstoy a try sometime in the near future, probably War and Peace.
Never give up on Russian literature! Give some of Gogol's short stories a try. He was just brilliant (and okay, okay, Ukrainian, but...) And Chekhov? Please! Russian literature is so dismal and stirring.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:55 AM   #424
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Never give up on Russian literature! Give some of Gogol's short stories a try. He was just brilliant (and okay, okay, Ukrainian, but...) And Chekhov? Please! Russian literature is so dismal and stirring.
Thanks for the tip, Sarita. I'm always up for some stirring dismality. (Dismalness? Dismalosity? Dismalitude?)

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Old 02-13-2013, 02:48 PM   #425
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I loved The Lovely Bones but couldn't finish Cloud Atlas. I found it too meandering and couldn't connect to the story line and characters. Felt the same way about If On Winters Night a Traveller but Italo Calvino.
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