Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abandoned Tomes

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

A few months ago I went to a book reading/signing for John Irving. The place was packed and I got there late, so I was stuck way in the back of the giant room where the whole ordeal was being held. I couldn't hear very well, but when someone asked Mr. Irving about books that have influenced him as a writer, my ears perked up.

I'm always interested to hear what books authors I like are reading. He mentioned that he enjoys great plots, and that the writers of the 19th century were the best at plotting. The name Thomas Hardy kept coming up, and while he mentioned a title, I couldn't recall the name of it after...but the plot is one that stands out, and simply by reading the back blurbs of a few Thomas Hardy books I was able to discover the one John Irving had mentioned. That's how I came to own The Mayor of Casterbridge.

So what is the brilliant plot that had me so interested? Well...The extremely drunken lead character sells his wife and daughter to a passing sailor at a county fair. See what I mean? Brilliant.

This simple and unique concept was enough to carry me through the first fifty pages or so, but as I read on I quickly found my interest waning. There was nothing particularly bad or annoying about this book, I don't have any gripes about it, I just could not stay interested in it.

It would appear that while I find much of John Irving's work to be geared towards my tastes, his tastes apparently aren't geared to mine. Maybe one day I'll be able to pick this one up again and read the whole thing, but for now it looks like I'll have to keep my reading planted firmly in the 20th and 21st centuries for a while.

Chance of giving it another go: Moderate

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