Monday, October 13, 2014

The Visible Man

Habits change over time, let's start with that. It is unusual of me to bail on reading a physical book, but this is partly because of the inertia --- literally --- that the book possesses. Ebooks are different. For one, they are not physically present, so there is no cluttery pile accumulating at my bedside; discarded ebooks just get pushed to the bottom of the stack. And reading an ebook requires a physical device (in my case, the fantastic Kobo mini, sadly discontinued), which is easily loaded with thousands of other books, so it is easy to put down one book and switch to another.  Plus, ebooks are plentiful in my desired reading language no matter where I am physically located; the same is not true of physical books.

But finally. The New York Public Library has most strongly enabled me to be a book-quitter. There is a huge selection of books available, free, so many that my queue is hundreds of books long, and every single one in the queue looks really interesting.

So when I start reading a book (take, for instance, The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman) and it's a little weird, I can keep reading it, through distasteful scenes and flat writing and poor characterizations. And when the interesting plot is finally, irretrievably poisoned by the continued lack of choices or actions by the narrator, and becomes a boring chore of moving my eyes across the words, I can easily bail on the book, put it down, and clease my palate with some of my bookmarked favorites, chapters from Neal Stephenson and Stanislaw Lem and Jasper Fforde.

And I never need to look back.

I didn't (at least, the last 60% of it). Skimming some reviews on goodreads suggests that even Klosterman's fans prefer his non-fiction writing to his fiction. Maybe one day I'll have worked through my giant queue and be curious enough to try his writing again. It was intriguing and technical (the story-within-a-story framing raises a lot of questions), so maybe after acquainting myself with some non-fiction I'll revisit this one.

Or maybe not.

Summary: don't bother reading this one.

This post's theme word is desultory, "marked by absence of a plan; disconnected; jumping from one thing to another," or "digressing from the main subject; random." The desultory anecdotes did not advance the plot, although they constituted the entirety of the text.

No comments: