I'm surprised at myself. I'm starting to hate novels I'm supposed to love.
Case in point, I picked up Cortazar's Hopscotch a few days ago-- a book recommended to me by no less than four people, independently of each other. I'm supposed to "love it, because it's the first hypertext novel!" And I tried to, I really did. I tried reading it in order, I tried the "out of order" thing, I tried just jumping around to see if anything ever happens in the whole goddamn book -- but I couldn't even get 50 pages in.
If it were 200 pages I would have sucked it up and finished it anyway, because I hate not finishing books. But 550?! That's too much to ask. I just can't get past wanting to take a red pen to those long, dreary descriptions of bohemians in the rain looking woefully at a Paris shop window full of bowls. Or sentences like this: "A perniciously comfortable attitude which even becomes easy as it grows into a reflex or technique; the frightful lucidity of the paralytic, the blindness of the perfectly stupid athlete."
Really? The frightful lucidity? I know it's a translation, but honestly. I have a pretty high tolerance for pseudo-philosophizing, and I just don't know what that means.
While I normally wouldn't bother putting my complaints on the interwebs, I did a little searching and found that the true awfulness of this novel is like one big secret; everyone knows it, but we're all supposed to pretend its not true by singing the praises of the . . nice prose? Interesting . . hypertextual . . concept? So I've decided I have to warn the others. For all those who, like me, toss the book aside in frustration and seek refuge in someone else's bitter blog post about being deceived by all those friends that cruelly recommended it to you: you are welcome here.
(Oh, and don't try The Rule of Four either. Someone gave it to me a long time ago and, after Hopscotch didn't work out, I turned to it in desperation. I mean, it's about the Hypnertomachia Poliphili, how it could it go wrong? Turns out, it can, and it does, sorely. A hundred pages of Princeton memories topped off with a dose sexism, a little more racism, and some very strange caricatures of scholars. I put it down after that. I don't know what took me so long. Avoid! Avoid!)