Tuesday, January 12, 2010

All good things really do come to an end

I read an article ages ago about a man who had read all of Jane Austen's novels except one. He considered himself to be one of Jane Austen's greatest fans yet despite this (or because of this) he wasn't prepared to read the last novel (Pride and Prejudice, as it happened).

At the time I thought the guy was a bit of a loon; why deny yourself the pleasure of reading every word published by your favourite author? What can't be gained by drinking deep of the Pierian Spring, etc?

It appears a great deal can be gained by not drinking deep, at least not at a second helping.

As a recent sufferer of nostalgia I've been revisiting some books and movies from yesteryear and found them to be, sadly, not what I remember them to be.

First I re-read what I thought was one of my favourite books, Possession by A. S. Byatt. While I loved the fictional poet (see my obsession with lovely poet-boys as per yesterday), I struggled with the heroine, the postmodern hurdy-gurdy, the late '80s fashions.

Then I watched what I thought was one of my favourite films, or trilogy of films, Three Colours: Blue, White and Red. It turns out they're a bit boring (except Blue, which still moderately bewitches me thanks to Juliet Binoche).

And don't even start me on music. An evening's home-DJing on New Year's Eve left me with no illusions as to the music I used to love.

So where to from here? Books will only be read once, films seen once, music listened to until I don't wake up each day dying to hear it again. At that point I'll put it all in a box and take it up to Newtown to sell at the Saturday markets.

So that Ian McEwan, nice hard-cover, hey; in fine condition too. For you? $3. What do you say?


squib said...

This is indeed a worry when you have been telling everyone they simply must read 'Possession'

Kettle said...

You know, it really is an excellent book and Byatt is one of my favourite authors (not better than Calvino, though, eh). I think perhaps the book was disappointing because I already knew how it ended, and the initial reveal was so thoroughly enjoyable to me.

Also, I just couldn't embrace the female poet in the story and I think (or thought, I'm questioning this lately) that an author of a love story has a responsibility to make it easy for you to fall in love with his/her love-struck heroes. Perhaps there's something askew with my expectations here; I had the same complaint about 'Bright Star'.

If you do read 'Possession' I'd be interested to hear what you think.

squib said...

I will give it a go. I'm in the middle of a very long and riveting description of 19th century Russian agriculture at the moment though

Mad Cat Lady said...

I am desparate for somebody I respect to read "The Warriors Apprentice" by Lois McMaster Bujold and tell me what they think, because I love that book to bits - though it is sci-fi-ish.

wails *but he is just so cute!!!!*

Kettle said...

Hmm, while you were delightfully vague about who you respect I'd be happy to be unrespected (even disrespected) and read 'The Warrior's Apprentice' and swap notes with you. I think there's a copy at the library up the road from my place; I'll see if I can pick it up tomorrow.

So, in terms of the he that is so cute, do you mean Ben Whishaw or the warrior's apprentice, eh? I think Ben Whishaw is so cute; have I mentioned that? Yes? Oh, ok.

Kettle said...

Oh no, "he 'who' is so cute"! Heavens, apologies.

Mad Cat Lady said...

sorry i lacked coherence yesterday evening *ahem* i was pui'ing (posting under the influence) i believe I may have been talking about the main character of the book

words, wine, coffee, art said...

This is good news, Kettle. I had thought I should, could and would re-read Possession some day. Now I don't have to bother.
It means also that I can discard most of the books occuping my bookshelves.
Thank you!

Kettle said...

Ha ha, MCL! Thank you for that acronym. It will come in very handy in explaining some of my incoherent rantings. Merci my dear.

And Words and Wine, that makes me very anxious. I wouldn't want to be in any way responsible for you casting your copy of 'Possession' into the nether regions of an op shop somewhere. Perhaps you should hold onto it? Flip through it again and reignite the flame? It's possible I was just in a flippant, throw-your-pants-out-the-window mood the other night when I wrote that books should be read then discarded. In fact, I'm happy to report that the crazy nutbar hoarder in me has reasserted herself and I think, once again, again that you should hold onto every book you've ever had forever.

At least that's what I'm telling my family now I've run out of energy and motivation to finish my annual spring clean and there are still as many books on my bookshelf. Oh well.

Leilani said...

You know I decided a few years ago not to hang onto so many books. I only have about 5-10 that I adore and reread - everything else is a one read only, visual library update and straight to the fete experience.

I am interested to know if others have a top 5 they reread. If you show me yours I'll show you mine.

Kettle said...

Ooh challenge accepted, Leilani. Will prepare over the weekend.

Leilani said...

You're on. I too will prepare my top 5.

Mad Cat Lady said...

My top five are regretfully easy as they have been the same for the last few years - i may be stuck in a time warp - but every year I read the three Barry Hubhart books starting with "Bridge of Birds" then read "The War of the Oaks" by Emma bull and then read "The Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett.

Leilani said...

Man, a top 5 is actually harder than I thought. Anyway for what it's worth, after persuing my book shelf and identifying the books that I go back and reread the top 5 is as follows:

The Remains of the Day: Kazuo Ishiguro
The Pursuit of Love/Love in a Cold Climate (2 books in one): Nancy Mitford
In Cold Blood: Truman Capote
Me Talk Pretty One Day: David Sedaris (did not go to his show last night due to lack of funds)
and the last one I think has to be Pride and Prejudice.

Senji said...

I always thought Persuasion was Jane Austen's last (and most boring) novel. I did it for the HSC in *ahem* '91 and that factoid seemed to pop into my head reading your post.

The only book I've ever re-read (probably 5 or 6 times) is Dirk Gently's Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

Kettle said...

Collective all time greatest re-reads list to follow imminently (well, probably after coffee).