Monday, March 21, 2011

I read in small chunks

Eesh. I promised I was back to regular posting, and then immediately went silent again. For nineteen days. Sorry about that! I've got an excuse, or at least an explanation: I'm really struggling with Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog. And whenever I find my reading a bit of a chore, everything else slams to a halt.

So why am I finding To Say Nothing of the Dog slow going? It's a good question. It's true that it is a time travel story, and I'm not particularly fond of those. But it is well written, and often drily funny, and set almost entirely in a time and place that I enjoy in historical novels (Victorian England -- there's a bit of Jane Austen, and a bit of P.G. Wodehouse to it).

In the end, I think it is purely a mechanical issue. I read in many small chucks across the course of a day. A couple of pages waiting for the bus, a couple of pages waiting for the kettle to boil. The chapters in To Say Nothing of the Dog are fairly long, and completely without breaks. These things are combining to make the book feel really disjointed. It doesn't flow, because I keep interrupting it.

If you're supposed to write what you like to read, there's a lesson in this for me. Short scenes, frequently breaks. The issue that's vexing me at the moment, though, is this: do I push through to the end of To Say Nothing of the Dog, or do I put it aside for a time when I can give it the attention it deserves?

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