Books Unread – 2011

The following were books I gave up on in 2011, with reasons attached. This list may be incomplete, since I tend to reinter unread books in charity shops.

  • After the Banquet, by Yukio Mishima – I’m not a great fan of c20th Japanese literature (in its uninteresting stories about nothing, it reminds me too much of contemporary English literature (you see, English, you weren’t even first to write your terrible novels)), but out of them all, Mishima has always been a favourite. Every now and then, though, he writes a somewhat lesser work: The Sailor who Fell from Love with the Sea, for instance, or this – a novel which seemed like it was going nowhere.
  • I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov – a collection of short stories really: I read about a hundred pages, the first few stories, but his ideas seemed dull to me, and it was all too badly written
  • The Tiger in the Smoke, by Margery Allingham – an English detective writer: I read about 2 pages before deciding it really wasn’t my kind of thing
  • The Light That Failed, by Rudyard Kipling – much as I love Kipling’s short stories, I have trouble with his novels (and his poetry too). I enjoyed Kim, after the first 50 pages or so at least, but I couldn’t get through Captains Courageous, or this. It starts well: the parts set in, I think it was, the Sudan, were good – but then it starts getting into the London art scene and some uninteresting love story
  • Last Call, by Harry Mulisch – I was enjoying this at first, a story set in the world of theatre, but perhaps I set it aside for too long because when I took it up again I couldn’t recall who any of the characters were and couldn’t get going again. So yes, perhaps more my fault, this one
  • The Crime of Olga Arbyelina, by Andreï Makine – I loved Dreams of My Russian Summers / Le Testament Français, but this and Once Upon The River Love, I’ve begun but given up on, I can’t say why exactly: I read the first 100 pages of both quickly, but then seemed to lose interest and couldn’t manage more than 5 pages at a time before giving in altogether
  • A Distant Mirror, by Barbara Tuchman – the only history book in the list: about Europe in the c14th; as usual, I became suspicious of the writer’s control and understanding of her subject matter, or of historical enquiry generally, I’m not entirely sure now
  • Everyman, by Philip Roth – boring, badly written
  • The Guide, by R K Narayan – I’ve never yet finished a book by Narayan: I’m interested for a while: I like the whole world he portrays; but suddenly my interest wanes
  • The End of the Story, by Lydia Davis – again, didn’t interest me much, if not at times actually annoying me
  • The Pier, by Rayner Heppenstall – of which I had high hopes, and found him an uninteresting Robbe-Grillet type
  • The Labyrinth of Solitude, by Octavio Paz – which was interesting for a while, until his opinions really started to irritate me – I can’t say precisely what it was now

That’s it: there are certainly others, but I can’t remember them now. Next year, I’ll keep a proper record.

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