Thursday 24 September 2009

This may be the apocalypse!

It really took me too long to read David Lodge's The British Museum is Falling Down. It was really short and it was just fine - but I've been literally too tired to read the past few days. It's a shocking thing to admit. But life in bookstoreland has been very intense, plus I'm old and rickety, and so it's been difficult to focus the old peepers on the page.

Last night, my hubby went off to play basketball in spite of his old man knees and I always go do something deliciously solitary when he's off being sweaty with other sweaty boys; this usually means reading. But having worked from 6 am until 7:45 pm yesterday, the best I could manage was watching back-to-back episodes of some blood porn TV (Criminal Minds and CSI: New York) which both disturbed and managed to relax me a little. I was too tired to read! Friends, this may be the first sign of the end of the world! If you hear the persistent sound of hoof beats wherever you go, start praying to whatever god you believe in.

Kidding aside, it's been a long time since I've been too tired to read. It doesn't fit well with my idea of myself as voracious and hardcore, you know? Also, it makes me incredibly whinge-y and I like to imagine that I'm generally too sophisticated for such high-pitched behaviour. Ah well. There it is. I'm mentally shrieking and kicking my legs like a toddler in need of a nap and some Ritalin because dammit, I'm too tired to read!!

I did manage to finish The British Museum is Falling Down today, so I'm not technically too tired to read BUT reading Lodge (at least in this instance) requires so little effort that you can do it while sleeping; I know I did today. It wasn't bad. It made me laugh out loud a few times (which is what I was going for, and trying to do so without only reading Wodehouse), like when the main character Adam's doctoral thesis subject topic is described:
The subject of Adam's thesis had originally been, 'Language and Ideology in Modern Fiction' but had been whittled down by the Board of Studies until it now stood as 'The Structure of Long Sentences in Three Modern English Novels'. The whittling down didn't seem to have made the task any easier. He still hadn't decided which three novels he was going to analyse, nor had he decided how long a long sentence was. [D.H.] Lawrence, he thought hopefully, would produce lots of sentences where the issue would not be in doubt. (p. 46)
Teehee. But the majority of the novel was only just fine, kind of like the production of the bland love child of P.G. Wodehouse and Martin Amis. Well, most of the rest of the novel was fine; the epilogue was profoundly annoying and as far as I can tell a terrible and misguided attempt to add depth to a novel that should never have tried to be anything but fun. At least it was only 7 pages or so.

Oh right - what the book was about. Young doctoral student in the 1960s contends with the ennui of dissertation-writing and bleak chances for landing an academic job at the same time that he and his wife agonize about whether or not she's pregnant again (he's 25 and they already have 3 kids!) because they're Catholic and can't use birth control. Hi jinx and confusion and anxiety and misunderstanding ensue. It was just fine.


Heidenkind said...

Aw. I was hoping the British Museum would actually fall down.

I've been too tired to read before, but I still try to do it, and immediately fall asleep. Sad. What happened to the days when I used to stay up until 4 AM reading, then trot happily (haha) off to class?

raych said...

Ah, fine books. What does one say about you? One doesn't want to DISsuade people from reading you, because what if they lurve you? But one doesn't really want to PERsuade people to read you when there is so much excellence out there to be read.

Rohan Maitzen said...

Have you read Nice Work? It's my favourite of his, probably because it is a re-vision of North and South. For a while I stopped reading Lodge, just sort of lost interest, then a mutual friend of ours (CL!) leant me Think, which I enjoyed, and I also just read Deaf Sentence, which I also enjoyed. But I agree that "fine" may about sum it up. I figure, it's hard to write novels when you've spent your life studying them: you'd be so self-conscious you couldn't help but go metafictional, for one thing.

Bookphilia said...

heidenkind: I know! I used to stay up all night reading too. Now I feel sleepy just thinking about trying to do that. Le sigh.

raych: Exactly.

Rohan: This is the only Lodge novel I've read. I think I'd better read North and South before I venture on to anything else; to my shame, the C. Bronte biography is still the only Gaskell I've read.

I'd forgotten that Lodge was an academic. Unfortunately, this adds more credence to my theory that one should never read novels by academics! But I'm sure there's an exception that I just can't remember. Oh no, I remember: Gaetan Soucy!