Fighting It Out

This is what I am reading now.

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Image courtesy The Book Cover Archive.

Except I am not reading it. I am avoiding it.

Why?

Does this ever happen to you? Where you are reading a book, except somehow you end up reading everything but the book that you're reading?  Usually I think that it just means that I don't like the book, except that in this case I do like the book. At least I think I do.

I like Michael Chabon's books. I think he's quite the amazing writer. And when I get into this one—when I read it at night, as I am going to sleep—I get caught up. But when there's a moment during the day when I have time, somehow I just don't turn to it.

I can't explain it. Sometimes I get angry, and I blame the book: "You're overwritten!" I tell it. "You're too Jewish!"

Sometimes I get maudlin. "It's me—I know it's me."

And the truth is, it is me. Something is not quite right inside, and the evidence is that I can't lose myself in a book the way I need to. But what am I to do, when the cure for my problem is the one thing I can't have?

12 thoughts on “Fighting It Out

  1. Oh my god oh my god.
    I have done this, many times, but particularly with this book. I liiiike this book. I’ve read about 100 pages. But I put it down and picked up other things instead.
    I loooooooved Kavalier & Clay, and I really love Michael Chabon as a writer. His stuff gets to me. But for some reason this book remains in a stack of things I need to pick back up. And plan to, one day. Just not yet.
    And I am also having a can’t-get-lost-in-a-good-book situation lately but mine comes from a very obvious place of being in school and taking three freaking literature courses right now that require a ridiculous amount of reading of things I don’t necessarily care about and it is taking away from my time and energy to read the things I do care about.

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  2. I have been meaning to read that, too…
    Who knows, sometimes it’s the book and sometimes, for whatever reason, you can’t give up those things you need to give up to get lost.
    The other day while washing the dishes, I heard this radio report that talked about how your whole brain goes to a different place when you have that house-could-burn-down-around-me-and-I-wouldn’t-know-it-because-I-am-reading feeling.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/10/09/162401053/a-lively-mind-your-brain-on-jane-austen

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  3. I finally decided I was not going to pick it back up, and put it in my give away pile. And I feel the same as you, that I should love it, because my love affair with all his other books is so deep. I can see the book as I type this, and I’m thinking, maybe I’ll try again. But I’ve been avoiding it for two years now, even as I reread Wonder Boys for the 7th time.

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  4. I totally love you. Seriously.
    I adored Kavalier and Clay and then couldn’t possibly get through this one. Now, his new novel is sitting next to my bed. I’m having difficult opening it.
    Do you know that I was intimidated by Don Delillo until I was about 45 and then finally picked up one of his books? I go through these weird phases — you must coin a word to account for this.

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  5. I tried this book years ago and gave up as well. I like Reading Aversion, but then it would be ALL reading wouldn’t it? When this happens to me, I glance at the thing I think I *should* be reading and then pick up a magazine or the news paper or (ahem) go find a blog…

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  6. Yeah- I have had it too. Usually it means the book is not right for me- at that particular point in time. Sometimes it seems I am on a run of not quite right books (happens when you read a lot of ARCs). So my solution is going back to books I adore to get my mojo back.

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  7. Somehow I feel like going on to other books is giving up in some way that’s not OK. Which, when I think about it, is sort of crazy. But there it is. I suppose part of my hesitation is “What if my reluctance is somehow evidence that this is going to be the book that CHANGES MY LIFE and my fear is just that—fear?” I am probably thinking too hard about this.

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  8. Which makes me wonder, have you in the past read books you felt really half-hearted about, then somehow the book turns it around and becomes LIFE-CHANGING or at least pretty awesome?
    I’ve certainly had the experience of being glad I pushed through a difficult spot to complete a book. Bleak House was tough in the middle, then became a veritable page-turner by the end. However, I don’t think I’ve ever had a book become life-changing if it wasn’t awesome from the start.
    I know…that probably doesn’t make you feel any better! Just trying to help though.
    P.S. this reminds me of the question about whether one should read ahead to the end of a book that one is really not enjoying. It seems so WRONG but the one time I did it, I was so glad that I did, as I hated the book’s end and was delighted to miss out on those intervening pages. Yet I’ve never done it since.

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  9. L: I don’t know. I feel I never really know what changed my life. Was it the not-loved-but-confused-by The Cheerleader paperback I picked up in college? Was it The Butterfly Kid? I feel like all of them end up changing my life in one way or another, which sounds mushy and imprecise, but which I really mean (I think) (how’s that for hedging?).
    I am now (heroically!) on the last 50 pages of this book, and I am caught up in the story to some degree, but I have a lot of questions about whether a person, even one of such considerable gifts as Mr. Chabon, should be using those gifts with quite so much abandon.

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  10. “Does this ever happen to you? Where you are reading a book, except somehow you end up reading everything but the book that you’re reading?”
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
    YES.

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