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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Points For Reading the Nutty Books

When I was learning to write fiction I felt I had to read all the books that made no sense. I started with Ulysses and then went to Finnegan's Wake and then finished with The Sound and the Fury and then to really confuse myself I read Infinite Jest. Quite certain I had completed my literary education by not understanding the prose of these very established writers I sat down and wrote my own very plain and simple novels. A bit like learning classical to play rock and roll.

And now I am reading the review of 1Q84, Murakamis's new novel and the review of the book makes no sense and I am quite sure the book makes less. Still I think, I should read this. And even the reviewer had a hard time getting over the fact that this nine hundred plus book made less sense than a mad hatter in a mad house still he felt it was a worthy book. And of course this begs the question of who is left to tackle these type of nutty books now.

Well writers  for one. They will read just about anything set in front of them that is deemed literary and cutting edge even if it make absolutely no sense. And of course this begs the question of does this type of reading help the writer. Yes and no. It did help me read Ulysses. It did not help me to read Finnegan's Wake. The Sound and the Fury maybe. Infinite Jest, sadly, no. I just didn't get the necessary kickback for me, but of course others might just find these books incredibly rewarding. And I am a slave to the dictum that writers should read the difficult books.

And what about the reading public. No. For the main these books will find few mainstream readers and maybe they shouldn't. They were not written for the mainstream anyway.  But then who is reading them and do you get points for attempting them? Saul Bellow once said there is no place in heaven for men who read boring books. Hmmm. I wouldn't say boring, but certainly nutty would fit Murakami's book that people will buy even if they don't understand it.

Maybe it is just that another human wrote something like Naked Lunch or Finnegan's Wake and you are really curious as to what the hell they are up too...even if you have no idea.

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Books by William Hazelgrove