Friday, April 06, 2012

The More You Know

Have you ever read a terrible book, but couldn't put it down for some reason? I am reading one of those right now, and I usually never have this problem! I have no qualms with stopping mid-book if I hate it. I mean really hate it. Or if I can't get in to the story. Or if it's bugging me. Would it surprise you to know that I never finished The Kite Runner? I didn't even make it very far. I got to a part that made me very uncomfortable, and I just closed the book and called it done. My MIL benefited from my disgust!

So, the book in question is called The Gifts of War. It's historical fiction/romance, taking place during the first World War. The facts are great, and I am learning things about the war that I never knew. Things beyond the dates and places and names of generals. The guy who wrote it is a historian (obviously), but not really a writer (unfortunately).

The protagonist is a cad. There, I said it. He meets a German soldier at the front during the Christmas truce of 1914, who gives him a message to pass on to the girl he left behind when he left his job in England. So Hal goes back home and promptly seduces Wilhelm's girl, who is still holding out hope that he will come home to her. All the while, Hal is presented as a man in love, who would do anything for his new girl and her family. He is a noble veteran doing all he can for his country, for the "war effort" and he really does feel guilty about failing to live up to his promise, blah blah blah. He is a jerk. Like 'Navin Johnson' from the movie The Jerk.

And the other characters feel really fake and superficial and fake. I just can't wrap my head around it.

As for the story, it's pretty good. Hal gets a job with military intelligence and investigates lots of nefarious deeds. A lot of that seems like a far stretch, but it's still pretty cool to think about what was going on behind the scenes during the "Great War". It's the characters that suck the life out of things.

But I can't stop reading it. When asked why, I say: "because then it wouldn't count towards my total for the year". Lame, huh!? I have found a handful of good quotes to keep around...I tend to judge a book by the number of pages I earmark. So far in this one I have read 347 pages, and only marked six, and one was because it was just so bad and unbelievable.

"The trouble with falling for someone when they haven't fallen for you (as yet, anyway) is that you read their behavior like an archaeologist reads the remains of a site that hasn't been inhabited for hundreds or thousands of years, trying to construct a scenario based on very thin and often ambiguous evidence."

"My sisters are...there are good and less good things about sisters, beastly things sometimes."

"She was pretty, bustling, busy, always moving, restless, like these new automobile things when they've been cranked into action - you know, the way they rattle, shake, throb with energy and power. Our mother had an engine inside her"

"When you are winning, or on the winning side, or in some favored position, success or winning is never as good a feeling as losing or being unsuccessful is horrible. Have you ever noticed that? People who lose feel that loss far more than winners relish winning."

"These feelings just creep up on you. you relax with someone, talk to them...and you don't think anything is happening. Then you pretend nothing is happening. Then, before you know it, you want something to happen. Then it happens. Then, before you can feel guilty, you feel so good, so alive, so joyful, that you are glad it has happened and you are trapped."

As a comparison, in All The Pretty Horses I earmarked every fifth page...and that book was really long!!

Ultimately, and perhaps the moral of the story as-it-were, is that this experience really makes me happy I have a library card and haven't had to pay anything beyond my $12 fee for any of these terrible books yet! Heaven forbid I should incur late fees. Oy vey.

I think I am going to stick to books with zombies, and aliens, and alternate futures. And Canadian humour from the early part of the last century...umm...

later loves

1 comment:

  1. Thank god this isn't Canadian. I'd be so embarrassed.


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