I finished The Lovely Bones and have decided I need to go back to reading the classics and genre fiction for awhile because contemporary literary fiction (except for David Mitchell, of course) is disappointing me quite intensely these days.
I don't know if Sebold's book got more and more horribly sentimental or if I reached my breaking point for it at some point, but as I read I got increasingly irritated. It got so bad that, frankly, I became a bit embarrassed to be carrying that damned bright blue book around; I didn't want everyone witnessing my shame and displeasure.
I decided on Stephen Crane who, if not a classic writer, is at least an old writer - he died in 1900. And it did seem promising. When Scott suggested this book to me several months ago, he convinced me to buy it by pointing out the first line of Maggie: A Girl of the Streets: you must admit that "A very little boy stood upon a heap of gravel for the honor of Rum Alley" is a pretty great start.
Unfortunately, I didn't find that Maggie delivered anything so compelling as what its opener promised; I thought it was stilted and a little boring. I've also read 4 of the 8 short stories included at the end of the volume; I thought "A Mystery of Heroism" was a pretty good story but found the other 3 fairly forgettable.
I won't be taking this volume with me to Europe so I'll have to finish it when I return. What I am taking with me, and what I can't wait to start reading, is Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White. I've been aching to read a fat Victorian novel and so picked up an old ragged copy of Collins' novel for $4 - this way, I won't feel badly if I lose it or have to abandon it for weight reasons along the way.