I rarely spend much time wondering why others do not enjoy the books I like.
The corollary of that is, of course, the fact that one doesn’t like the books everyone else does.
I live under the constant impression that other people, other readers, are allowing themselves to be hoodwinked. They are falling for charms they shouldn’t fall for. Or imagining charms that aren’t there.
Tim Parks discusses the books that everyone raves about, but that he just doesn’t like. I’ve been having that problem lately. I read a lot; a lot. I have lots of books, and have always read a lot. But lately, I’ve been very disappointed by a number of Big Novels. The latest books by Jonathan Franzen, the most recent Salman Rushdie, the much-touted City of Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg, and the self-referential Book of Numbers, by Joshua Cohen. All of these books got rave reviews in the press, by the Reviews that Count, but I was unable to finish any of them.
I had been wondering if my attention span had been whittled away by the internet, like a tree trunk gnawed by a dripping beaver. But I’m reassured that a writer like Parks expresses the same feelings.
I should return to Proust, Balzac, Robert B. Parker, T. S. Eliot, Philip K. Dick, Emerson, and Thoreau. At least I won’t be disappointed by them.