You know the feeling when you look around you and wonder if there’s something really, seriously wrong with you because you don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the human race?
Maybe I’m projecting here–I admit I have that feeling not so infrequently. The most recent and strongest catalyst was reading The Goldfinch.
If you haven’t heard of the book, well, first of all, you probably deliberately didn’t listen to the buzz. Because there was buzz, and it was loud. But second of all, I consider you lucky.
This book is (obviously in my opinion only) terrible. Reading this book is (based only on my own experience) like trying to drag your legs through mud that has already begun drying.
I started reading it for my work book club in December. I had it on Kindle and began the painful process while in bed with a sinus infection on Christmas. I attributed the lost will to live to my illness, but that was ignorant of me, and I could have saved myself hours of unnecessary depression had I realized then that the dreary, lagging sentences and terrible plot twists and nauseating characters would only continue for nearly 800 pages.
I couldn’t bring myself to finish the book in time for the book club, so then I put it on hold to go on vacation and devote my time to books that were (solely to my own mind) actually entertaining–ones that didn’t make me jealous of people who can’t read.
Then I downloaded the Kindle app on my phone and started reading while waiting for the subway. Thanks to a month of the MTA’s maddeningly slow weekend night service, I finally finished the book last night. Coming to the end of this book is (to me) like getting to the end of a bottle of disgusting tasting medicine: you’re relieved to be through but really wish you’d never had to start in the first place.
If you couldn’t tell, I am not a fan of this book.
The thing is, people love this book. Its Amazon listing has 4 stars with more than 6,000 reviews. Goodreads has it at 4 stars with more than 64,000 ratings. And sure, that’s just the average, so obviously some people agree with me that this book was torturous to get through.
But so many people have praised it that it really has me questioning my “individuality.” For example, the part at the end that went on almost forever–one could argue it just felt that way because the reader is so close to being done with the thing that each paragraph seems to last decades–was reminiscent of the passage in Atlas Shrugged where John Galt delivers a supposed radio speech that goes on for at least 60 pages because, I can only assume, Rand thought so little of her readers that she couldn’t bear to imagine one of them may not have gotten her less than subtle point even though she repeated it throughout the entire book. (I actually like Atlas Shrugged, but I skimmed that entire section.) Only in The Goldfinch, I hadn’t realized the author was so bent upon grinding a message into our minds, so I read the whole thing because I thought for sure there must be something redeemable in that much prose.
Anyway. Reading The Goldfinch was a miserable experience, and now that I’m done, I’m still miserable because I feel like there must be something I’m missing from my soul. I understand we’re all different and we have different reading experiences, but the degree to which the general public appreciates this book that I couldn’t stand makes me suspect I may not be connected to the rest of humanity the way I should be…am I actually a robot who doesn’t know it?
No, that can’t be it; otherwise, I would have been able to finish this monster of a let-down in less than 3 months.