01 December 2005

Confess Your Readerly Sins!

Being of good New England stock, I am a big fan of sins. My previous post has sparked a lot of comments already, and there seems to be a desire amongst readers to confess some of the books they know they should like, but haven't yet been able to connect with, for whatever reason. Let's bring that conversation over here. It will get us all ready for our New Year's resolutions, prepare us for the Rapture, and help us understand our praying-mantis god.

First, I'll add a quote I stuck in the comments to the other post, and which I stole from The Rake:
Not so many years ago I read an interview with a critic who was expounding on the importance of good taste. It occurred to me how once you begin worrying about whether your taste is "good," then you're calibrating your passions as others will judge them and your passions aren't your passions anymore but affectations. Preoccupation with one's taste is the way of small and cautious spirits. Any opinion worth a damn is an opinion that doesn't give a damn. In a severe and increasingly unforgiving new century, no pleasure is guilty; or perhaps, as Jonathan Lethem has said (only half-kiddingly, I think), all pleasure is guilty and that's the fun of it.
--Steve Erickson, introduction to Black Clock 4
And I'll make my own confession, because, obviously, I like confessing even more than I like self-flagellation: Of all the various writers whose texts give me little pleasure, the one I feel most guilty about is Charles Dickens. Chuck and I should get on great, and yet as much as I've tried -- and boy have I tried, for years and years -- I have never enjoyed anything of his I've read. Nothing. I can revel in the pleasures of even the dullest bit of Tolstoy, but Dickens? After five pages, I'm either asleep or ridiculously annoyed by any number of things that don't bother me with other writers. (It's probably a Victorian Big Novelist thing -- I don't get much from Trollope, either, and I only seem to like the first half of novels by Hardy.)

Enough about me. Confess your sins below.