Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Which Books From Your Past Do You Read Now With Ambivalence?

The NYTBR asked two writers yesterday to name a book that did not turn out to be essential reading when read years later. Adam Kirsch chose T.S. Elliott's THE WASTE LAND and Zoe Heller chose some of the Glass stories from Salinger and ARIEL by Sylvia Plath

If I had to choose, I would probably go with LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL, which despite Max Perkins editing still seems over-wrought and over-written. Or maybe it is mostly that styles have changed. Not sure.

What would you choose?

17 comments:

George said...

The fiction of John Updike, especially COUPLES. Updike's essays and reviews are brilliant.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think it's subject matter feels especially dated. Still love the Maple stories though.

Deb said...

(Possible duplicate post--sorry.)

I'd have to go with Gone With The Wind which I read multiple times in my teens but as I got older had a harder and harder time with its dreadful racism. As the kids say, I just can't even with that anymore.

On the other hand, it is said that no one ever reads the same book twice because you're always a different person from the last time you read it. Sometimes you've just outgrown the stage in your life where a book really "spoke" to you--for this reason, I always look askance at people my age who still think The Catcher in the Rye or The Fountainhead are novels for the ages.

Charles Gramlich said...

The Metamorphosis.

Chad Eagleton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad Eagleton said...

Jack Kerouac

Richard said...

SILAS MARNER, THE MILL ON THE FLOSS and similar books that wee required classics when I was in school. Also, Poe does nothing for me, though I devoured all the novels and stories when I was young. I agree with Deb about The Catcher in the Rye and The Fountainhead (or any Rand). Also Ginsberg's HOWL, which seemed an anthem when I was in college.

Richard said...

Also from Deb:
"As the kids say, I just can't even with that anymore."

I weep for language and grammar.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I hadn't thought of issues like racism or Ayn Randism spoiling books but of course they do. The main issue I was thinking of was a change in style or in expectations. So many reasons that books don't hold up. And having to read a book in school has spoiled many a fine one.

Anonymous said...

Why does Blogger hate me? I'd guess at least a quarter of my comments have disappeared after I've posted them.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think it's be ause you are not registered! Not sure why that matters. But I get the emails,

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, styles have definitely changed.

I may be in the minority but "The Waste Land" was not essential reading for me even when I read it 40 years ago. But that's me.

I rarely reread so it is a tough choice. I might go with CATCHER IN THE RYE or BRAVE NEW WORLD or STEPPENWOLF.


Jeff M.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

John Irving even though I like his books.

Deb said...

Jeff--I find if I comment as "Anonymous," it's a 50-50 shot that my comment gets vaporized; whereas if I comment using "Name/URL" (but leave the URL field blank), my comment shows up most of the time.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Saul Bellow.

Ron Scheer said...

Paul Goodman, GROWING UP ABSURD.

Cindy Dy said...

i enjoy most of your articles,the articles are so nice for readers.

Shan
www.gofastek.com