Thursday 27 November 2008

The cure for reader's block

Damn it, I've kind of been feeling a lot like not reading. I've been thinking of taking a break from reading, although what I would do instead I can't even conceive of.

I think it's a testament to the emotional and mental exhaustion associated with being at the very, very end of my PhD ordeal that I'm so tired as to be having trouble having fun with books. I've never felt this way in my life. NEVER. I find it disturbing in ways I can't begin to describe.

I recently began reading Russell Hoban's Pilgermann. It's short and it started off funny in a dark and Absurdist way, which I often enjoy (unless it's completely incomprehensible, like The Third Policeman). But it's quickly turned into a very earnest and kind of pretentious foray into mysticism and the disturbing unity of all things. Did I mention it's short? Well, I'm half way through and I think I might still abandon it. In any case, I've abandoned it for today in favour of the only Dickens novel available (that I haven't already read) at the Queen/Saulter branch of the de-gorgeous Toronto Public Library.

Dickens may seem like a strange choice to some of you but consider: all I want is good writing, a good story, and a complete lack of pretentiousness. Add some charm and a dash of hilarity, and that's Dickens' perfection pretty much summed up.

The only Dickens here for me has turned out to be A Tale of Two Cities and so far I'm quite enjoying it, which is a world of change from the torturous loathing (of self and book) that has been my experience so far with Pilgermann. (Pilgermann may be an excellent book but now is absolutely the wrongest of uber-wrong times for me to be reading it. Ugg.)

I have been preparing for my thesis defense today, which is why I'm not lolling about or painting the living room at home. I'm now officially at the less than 2 week mark and so have to get my preparation on. But damn, I have an attention span the size of a gnat and I feel like I'm reading a thesis written not just by someone else, but by someone I neither know nor have even heard of. It's really quite disorienting. I wish the lack of familiarity could make this thesis interesting to me but alas...

But Dickens! A plot! Good writing! No ego! I would have been a Dickens groupie back in the day, I know it. (I would like to include a pic of Dickens and his sexy mustaches here but this library computer is giving me grief. I'll do it from home later.)


raych said...

Two Cities was my first and one of my favorite Dickenses. I read it sort of by accident while I was backpacking in Europe (I've never found a way to word that tri[ so I don't sound slightly douchey), because you can only ever carry one book with you, and then when you finish it, you trade it with the next person you meet who has also finished THEIR book. Anyway, I never intended to read Dickens because I thought he'd be over my head, but now I'd totally go back in time and make out with him.

Chris Bell said...

Persevere with Hoban's Pilgermann, then let it settle for a while. You will want to read it over and over again.

Anonymous said...

that's a library? here? i definitely need to go check it out.

also: good luck!

Bookphilia said...

Raych: We like the same book! It had to happen at some point, but still, it makes me happy.

Chris: I'll try. I really will.

Fathima: Yes, it's in the east end. You know, the part on the Toronto map that says "There be Dragons". :) But don't get too excited: it's not half that beautiful on the inside.

Rohan Maitzen said...

'Tale of 2 Cities' makes me cry every time. It's kind of a crazy book, even for Dickens--kind of ur-Dickensian. It is a far, far better thing I do...indeed.

I dunno about those mustaches. They look kind of tickly.