Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Over My Head





I am reading THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir and must confess more than half of it is well beyond me. Although I took four science classes in college none prepared me for the principles you need to understand to follow this book fully. But somehow I am getting enough out of it to continue through.


This sort of trouble also dogs me with complex financial plots. Or even the parlance in spy novels.

Is there any type of book that made you similarly at bay? Did you finish it anyway?

16 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I feel this way with a lot of books. Heck, I feel this way just trying to get through the day.

George said...

I had the same problems you did with THE MARTIAN. It read like a series of science puzzles. Sure, it was clever but a little of that goes a long way with me. Plus, how do you "forget" someone on Mars?

Charles Gramlich said...

Lawyer stuff sometimes, but mostly because it's so damn boring.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

When I feel that way I do the Crider method: lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth on my head until it passes. No, I wouldn't finish the book.

Jeff M.

Richard said...

Books that depend on understand complexes, syndromes and psychological impairments to suss out the motivations of the characters.

Anonymous said...

I tend to have problems with keeping characters straight in Russian or Chinese novels.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, in any culture where the names are very different from ours or where they use names differently, I draw a chart. I must confess though I read novels from other cultures much more in my youth.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'm with anonymous.

Gerard said...

Non-English and German names on audiobooks will throw me off. I have quit several audio titles because I cannot keep track of characters. I just started the last of Jens Lapidus's Stockhold set crime trilogy and am already having trouble.

Oh, I just saw I am not the only one with that trouble.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes. And even when televised the names and faces take longer to connect.

Kieran said...

Golly, THE MARTIAN was amazing, I'm sorry you're vexed. That said, windy, historical novels make me bleary-eyed. And the appeal of snappy legal thrillers baffles me. Having wasted many hours listening to astonishingly dry, bitter K Street blowhards, I am of the position that most (if not all) dramatizations of the legal profession are far-fetched at best.

Deb said...

I find it's more how the material is presented. Long passages of dry fact are long and dry regardless of subject matter. I used to read things I didn't understand all the time (Sartre's Being and Nothingness comes to mind), but as I've gotten older I don't feel compelled to begin or continue reading things that make my mind shut down.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not vexed so much as mystified at who can follow the science in it? And the parts that weren't scientific seemed rather flat. Maybe I didn't read far enough along. I am at 55%.

Todd Mason said...

As I noted elsewhere (a Jackie Kashian-related page), this was one of the sf novels that B&N had all stacked up on buy one get one promotion...and all of them were sf novels that their publishers hoped to segregate from sf. As if, as I noted, the only worthwhile stand up comedians were the actors who dabbled in stand-up...why would you want to hear from those who specialize in such matter?

R.T. said...

I am also frustrated with SF books because so many of them are loaded down with jargon and techno-babble. Similarly, I cannot seem to embrace some of John Le Carre's novels because of the spycraft singularity. But I think our shared responses to such writing is not unique. After all, I think readers seek out styles that are "comfort zones" rather than "foreign language." And this is a good thing, otherwise the world would be a very boring one-size-fits-all place. So, just as there are readers dedicated to techno-thrillers larded down with obscure concepts, there are also people like the pared-down simplicity of a crime story by Mickey Spillane. In the end, though -- as I sort of amend all that I have just written -- perhaps I am missing the central point: Good writers can write about anything and attract lots of readers; lesser writers . . . well, you can finish that sentence.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Good points, R.T.