books you didn't finish

TeleBrew

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 5, 2007
Posts
12,630
Age
50
Location
Weaverville, NC
"Infinite Jest," by David Foster Wallace comes to mind immediately. I think I made it 100 pages in, or so, before I gave up. A friend of mine swore he loved it, but I think he was lying.

One book I couldn't finish was by an author I am a fan of, T.C. Boyle. It was his novel about Frank Lloyd Wright, "The Women." Stodgy and boring, so I quit torturing myself after less than 100 pages.
 

teletimetx

Doctor of Teleocity
Ad Free Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2011
Posts
15,235
Location
Frontrangia CO
Like his "prostitute" big brother.

All teens have acute hypocrisy radar. That's one of their jobs. That's one of the reasons teens used to like Holden so much. His was strong enough to make him flee school.

Happily, J.D. never wrote a sequel. But judging from the other stuff he wrote, we can imagine little Holden having a pretty interesting adulthood.

He got over one hurdle, anyhow. A sign of hope.

Here's more to think about:
Fairly easy to confuse/conflate/combine J. D. with Holden. However, given the real world timing, J. D. was a WWII vet and justifiably proud of having served and survived. I'm not convinced Holden would have done as well in the military.

While I admire Holden's tenacious battle with hypocrisy and hope for the best with that, I find other elements of his personality less interesting. Somewhat the same disappointment that arises from finding J. D. in his sunset years trolling for the barely legal with letter writing campaigns, whilst married to his last spouse. I suppose some would say, hey, can't blame a guy for trying, IDK. I guess when I'm rewarded with nirvana for my perfection, looking down my nose will seem more natural.
 

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
10,939
Location
Augusta, Maine
Fairly easy to confuse/conflate/combine J. D. with Holden.
Haven't yet, don't plan to!

I was pointing to J.D.'s other books and stories, not to J.D. All of them — all of them — are about spiritual quests and crossroads. It's not wrong to read Catcher that way.

Personally, I've crossed some roads, but I've never quested spiritually in my life. Maybe it's because it's the road not taken, but I often like stories and songs are about people who do. It even describes some of my songs.
However, given the real world timing, J. D. was a WWII vet and justifiably proud of having served and survived. I'm not convinced Holden would have done as well in the military.

While I admire Holden's tenacious battle with hypocrisy and hope for the best with that, I find other elements of his personality less interesting. Somewhat the same disappointment that arises from finding J. D. in his sunset years trolling for the barely legal with letter writing campaigns, whilst married to his last spouse. I suppose some would say, hey, can't blame a guy for trying, IDK. I guess when I'm rewarded with nirvana for my perfection, looking down my nose will seem more natural.
Few successful artists are nice people.

When I was about twenty, a young woman who knew a lot of performers told me I'd never make it as a musician. I thought she was about to tell me I sucked (because I did). Instead, she said, "Your ego isn't big enough."

Steinbeck and Tolstoy were monstrous to their kids. Geogia O'Keefe destroyed her little sister's career. Diana Ross drove Flo into the the shadows to make a name for herself. Louis Celine, Ezra Pound, and Maurice Chevalier were **** sympathizers. Khalil Gibran and Jerzy Kozinski were frauds who invented interesting life stories to make names for themselves. (Kozinsky hardly even wrote. He paid other people to.) Mel Gibson is an virulent anti-Semite. Sinatra hung out with murderers. Bill Wyman, Woody Allen, and Jerry Lee Lewis shagged little girls.

You probably know all that, and I do get your concerns. No book is for everyone. No one is going to get me to like James North Patterson, no matter how hard they try.

And to your main point, yes!, Holden was born into the idle ruling class and is likely to die in it. I just mean it doesn't pay to look for angels. It's enough to look for art that humans make, and it's enough for the characters to struggle with their problems, whether or not they prevail.

J.D.'s don't always. But Catcher left me optimistic about Holden's chances. And I liked the little guy. So that's that!
 

teletimetx

Doctor of Teleocity
Ad Free Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2011
Posts
15,235
Location
Frontrangia CO
Haven't yet, don't plan to!

I was pointing to J.D.'s other books and stories, not to J.D. All of them — all of them — are about spiritual quests and crossroads. It's not wrong to read Catcher that way.

Personally, I've crossed some roads, but I've never quested spiritually in my life. Maybe it's because it's the road not taken, but I often like stories and songs are about people who do. It even describes some of my songs.

Few successful artists are nice people.

When I was about twenty, a young woman who knew a lot of performers told me I'd never make it as a musician. I thought she was about to tell me I sucked (because I did). Instead, she said, "Your ego isn't big enough."

Steinbeck and Tolstoy were monstrous to their kids. Geogia O'Keefe destroyed her little sister's career. Diana Ross drove Flo into the the shadows to make a name for herself. Louis Celine, Ezra Pound, and Maurice Chevalier were **** sympathizers. Khalil Gibran and Jerzy Kozinski were frauds who invented interesting life stories to make names for themselves. (Kozinsky hardly even wrote. He paid other people to.) Mel Gibson is an virulent anti-Semite. Sinatra hung out with murderers. Bill Wyman, Woody Allen, and Jerry Lee Lewis shagged little girls.

You probably know all that, and I do get your concerns. No book is for everyone. No one is going to get me to like James North Patterson, no matter how hard they try.

And to your main point, yes!, Holden was born into the idle ruling class and is likely to die in it. I just mean it doesn't pay to look for angels. It's enough to look for art that humans make, and it's enough for the characters to struggle with their problems, whether or not they prevail.

J.D.'s don't always. But Catcher left me optimistic about Holden's chances. And I liked the little guy. So that's that!

For clarity, I joined this Catcher conversation because I've read the book several times - not because I couldn't finish it or wanted to otherwise trash it. Just curious.

Fully aware that many, many, many artists (including the examples you mention) are all too human, many of them neck-deep in their own kool-aid. However, I don't entirely buy the idea that few successful artists are nice people - but sometimes, you do have to pull apart "success" from "art". Have known many wonderful artists capable of art just as wonderful as "successful" artists - and you probably have had the same experience as well. And not unheard of that many successful artists also happen to be pretty nice human beings. Examples too numerous to mention.

I give some leeway to both Salinger and Kozinski considering whatever their experiences in WWII happened to be. I'm always a little leery of how many people seemed to want to target Kozinski and for a variety of reasons; sort of, ok, then what? I should regret having read Being There?

In thinking about Catcher, I realized that the first time I read it was at 15 or something, and at the time, born and raised in small town Colorado. A whole lot of what I reading then was devoid of context. In my late 20's, I went back to a number of books, including Catcher, because I was oh, so much wiser then. But it did change a number of understandings. I always found Holden likable, just wasn't as optimistic about his chances as you seem to be; hence my reference to Poughkeepsie...but not meaning to imply there are no successful artists in Poughkeepsie for heaven's sake!

In contrast, a spiritual quest of some kind has been an element of my existence off and on for a long time. Not for an organized religion, with uniforms and choreographed rituals, but just trying to make sense of things. "Spiritual" may be too high-falutin' of a concept to invoke here - as many have said - you don't find the holy thing out there hiding somewhere - it's within. Maybe?
 

P Thought

Doctor of Teleocity
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2009
Posts
14,042
Location
Plundertown (Gasville) OR
In Shoeless Joe and the Iowa Baseball Conspiracy, the book that became the movie Field of Dreams, the cranky writer was J.D. Salinger (played by James Earl Jones in the movie). Pretty good book; I finished it. A couple-three times.
 

Toto'sDad

Tele Axpert
Ad Free Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2011
Posts
59,666
Location
Bakersfield
I have made smardastic remarks about reading books, maybe even in this thread. I used to "see" the scenes and characters depicted in the books, sometimes it was as if I were even one of the characters it was so real to me. I read by moonlight through the windowpane of where I slept when we lived out on farm number two in Arkansas. I rode with Arizona Ames, and Lasiter on many an adventure in the mountains and valleys and across the purple sage.

Then one day it was gone, just words on paper, I read, then I start over, then I read, then I start over. I have a book my son gave me seven years ago that he recommended highly about a central figure of the time period toward the end of WW II. I have gone as far as eighty-five pages into the book, and I just fizzle out. I don't and have never cared for off color, or steamy stories, I am not jaded from that sort of thing. I just for all intents and purposes have lost any desire to read. It's odd that I read the post on here, and most of them make sense to me. ;)
 

mycroftxxx

Tele-Meister
Joined
Mar 20, 2020
Posts
177
Location
Left Coast
Good just for the foolish antics are Donald Westlake
Check out the “coffee” novel, Kahawa; really really good and not a foolish antic in sight.
Westlake is great, especially the Dortmunder books, but I don't know that he ever wrote mysteries; never really got into the Richard Stark stuff, there were some under another pseudonym that popped up a few years back, they were just OK.
Westlake wrote tons of stuff under many different pseudonyms, in many different genres; but my favorites are the Parker novels under the Richard Stark pseudonym. The ones he wrote after the long hiatus are generally very good, and the second of the bunch - Backflash - has one of the most suspenseful endings in the whole series.
But getting back to the topic of this thread…I actually don’t care for the Dortmunder novels that much, only have about a third of them, and there’s one - Drowned Hopes - that I’ve never been able to get far into. There are a few duds in the Parker novels, but they all still grab me in a way the Dortmunder books don’t.
 

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
10,939
Location
Augusta, Maine
. . . I give some leeway to both Salinger and Kozinski considering whatever their experiences in WWII happened to be . . . .
No slack for Jerzy. He just lied about his to sell books. And got caught.
. . . . In contrast, a spiritual quest of some kind has been an element of my existence off and on for a long time. Not for an organized religion, with uniforms and choreographed rituals, but just trying to make sense of things. "Spiritual" may be too high-falutin' of a concept to invoke here - as many have said - you don't find the holy thing out there hiding somewhere - it's within. Maybe?
Yup, maybe! Thinking about it, I mostly just thought the dern book was funny.

Thanks!
 

johnny k

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Posts
10,564
Location
France
Haven't yet, don't plan to!

I was pointing to J.D.'s other books and stories, not to J.D. All of them — all of them — are about spiritual quests and crossroads. It's not wrong to read Catcher that way.

Personally, I've crossed some roads, but I've never quested spiritually in my life. Maybe it's because it's the road not taken, but I often like stories and songs are about people who do. It even describes some of my songs.

Few successful artists are nice people.

When I was about twenty, a young woman who knew a lot of performers told me I'd never make it as a musician. I thought she was about to tell me I sucked (because I did). Instead, she said, "Your ego isn't big enough."

Steinbeck and Tolstoy were monstrous to their kids. Geogia O'Keefe destroyed her little sister's career. Diana Ross drove Flo into the the shadows to make a name for herself. Louis Celine, Ezra Pound, and Maurice Chevalier were **** sympathizers. Khalil Gibran and Jerzy Kozinski were frauds who invented interesting life stories to make names for themselves. (Kozinsky hardly even wrote. He paid other people to.) Mel Gibson is an virulent anti-Semite. Sinatra hung out with murderers. Bill Wyman, Woody Allen, and Jerry Lee Lewis shagged little girls.

You probably know all that, and I do get your concerns. No book is for everyone. No one is going to get me to like James North Patterson, no matter how hard they try.

And to your main point, yes!, Holden was born into the idle ruling class and is likely to die in it. I just mean it doesn't pay to look for angels. It's enough to look for art that humans make, and it's enough for the characters to struggle with their problems, whether or not they prevail.

J.D.'s don't always. But Catcher left me optimistic about Holden's chances. And I liked the little guy. So that's that!
Not trying to explain Celine's political view at the time, but lovecraft was also a bit on the weird side too. Robert E Howard was probably there too. Those were popular opinions. What would you or i have done back then ? Without the 80 years between now and then, it is hard to tell. And such ideas are still going strong nowadays...
 

notmyusualuserid

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 3, 2016
Posts
5,343
Location
In the South
Not trying to explain Celine's political view at the time, but lovecraft was also a bit on the weird side too. Robert E Howard was probably there too. Those were popular opinions. What would you or i have done back then ? Without the 80 years between now and then, it is hard to tell. And such ideas are still going strong nowadays...

Howard and Lovecraft were pulp hacks. Celine was a respected author, and a doctor.

Have you read Carmen Callil's Bad Faith?
 

oldunc

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jan 31, 2014
Posts
3,175
Location
California
Check out the “coffee” novel, Kahawa; really really good and not a foolish antic in sight.

Westlake wrote tons of stuff under many different pseudonyms, in many different genres; but my favorites are the Parker novels under the Richard Stark pseudonym. The ones he wrote after the long hiatus are generally very good, and the second of the bunch - Backflash - has one of the most suspenseful endings in the whole series.
But getting back to the topic of this thread…I actually don’t care for the Dortmunder novels that much, only have about a third of them, and there’s one - Drowned Hopes - that I’ve never been able to get far into. There are a few duds in the Parker novels, but they all still grab me in a way the Dortmunder books don’t.
"Drowned Hopes" was the best of them, a true epic.
 

johnny k

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Posts
10,564
Location
France
Howard and Lovecraft were pulp hacks. Celine was a respected author, and a doctor.

Have you read Carmen Callil's Bad Faith?
Nope. Never heard about that one. Lovecraft a pulp hack ? MAybe not in the same category as Celine, it never prevented anyone from enjoying it.
 

notmyusualuserid

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
May 3, 2016
Posts
5,343
Location
In the South
Nope. Never heard about that one. Lovecraft a pulp hack ? MAybe not in the same category as Celine, it never prevented anyone from enjoying it.
You misunderstand me. I meant that Celine had a wider audience and more influence than Lovecraft and Howard.

Concerning Bad Faith, it's probably better if we take it off-board. Don't want to upset the mods.
 

cyclopean

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Posts
7,771
Location
innsmouth, MA
It, by Stephen King.

I was a few hundred pages in, and it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase when i was going to a destination wedding in Vegas. I never picked it back up again.
 

black_doug

Friend of Leo's
Silver Supporter
Joined
Jun 14, 2004
Posts
4,268
Age
65
Location
North of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Very few people have read right through the whole of the Bible, unless you’re some kind of scholar. C’mon. Who needs to read about every law in place thousands of years ago in the Jewish society, in the book of Leviticus.

There are other parts that I go back to again and again, because I’m so forgetful.

I read War and Peace when I was in my thirties, but when I tried to read it again, in my sixties, couldn’t do it.
 

johnny k

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Posts
10,564
Location
France
You misunderstand me. I meant that Celine had a wider audience and more influence than Lovecraft and Howard.

Concerning Bad Faith, it's probably better if we take it off-board. Don't want to upset the mods.
read the summary on amazon, i don't think it is for me.
 

offsideref

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Posts
485
Location
Aberdour
When I was younger, I somehow felt I owed it to the author of a work of fiction to keep going to the end! Now, I’ll put down any book if
I don’t feel engaged after a couple of chapters, or
The characters say or do things that nobody in real life would, or
The book is poorly written, or
The characters act in such a way that I don’t care what happens to them, or
… sometimes a character has been given such a ludicrous name that I can’t “suspend my disbelief” enough to keep going

This is like, reasons I wouldn’t finish a book, Vol. 1 Part 1. (/:(
 

bromdenlong

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Posts
507
Age
59
Location
Oceanside CA
237 posts in, and only about a half dozen posts trashing Ayn Rand. This has to be a record for a thread like this on any board! :)

Granted, her style is dry and her characters are not nuanced and multidimensional. Her characters are presented almost entirely through action and dialogue. The same is true for Tom Clancy, who is an even greater master of plot.

The distaste for her here seems to be stylistic. Appreciation or dislike for style comes down to personal taste. If you can’t stand her style, so be it. I love her.

I’ll admit I do get a little annoyed when people attack her work in a philosophical context, but only roll their eyes, sneer, and offer a cheap shot passing insult (usually “sophomoric” or “juvenile”) without actually naming what they object to in her work - apart from her style.

I DO NOT want to derail the thread or get banned, so if anyone wants to respond with philosophical objections, please send me a PM. Otherwise this will get political.
 

bromdenlong

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Posts
507
Age
59
Location
Oceanside CA
The most unreadable book I’ve found is Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre.

I have read the KJV, apart from Psalms. I just couldn’t push through that one.
 




Top