Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Fancies

In addition to buying lots of books, one of my latest literary habits has been to give myself permission to not finish a book if it's not appealing to me. I've abandoned two or three books in recent months and, unfortunately, the most recent victim is one by one of my favorite contemporary authors, Zadie Smith's latest work NW. One of the things I've always enjoyed about Smith's work is her ability to tell stories of very modern groups of people, yet do so by using very traditional fictional formats. This is most obviously apparent in On Beauty, in which she riffs on E.M. Forster's Howard's End. In NW, she covers some of the same territory, but in a bleaker way, with less likable characters, and writes in a constantly shifting style that feels arbitrarily experimental. There were a few gems of the clever observations and wordplay that characterize Smith's writing, but these weren't enough to keep my going beyond the first hundred pages.

(Hydrangea in winter.)

On a more positive note, here are a few things that I did enjoy this week:

There's going to be a new Bridget Jones novel!

An author's unexpected shift from Westerns to romance novels.

What does everyone think of Bookish? Will you use it.

And if the Netherfield Ball was held today, you know the Bingleys and the Bennets would be tweeting about it


  1. I also recently gave myself permission to abandon books that aren't working for me. It's really liberating, but I also can't help but feel guilty at the same time.

  2. Oh my, I love that story about the romance author!
    I never finish books that I don't get along with. My reading time is too precious for me to spend it reading something I hate.
    I'm v. excited about the new Bridget Jones novel!
    Have a great weekend - snow and all.

  3. hooray for bridget jones! those were a long time ago, and it's about time for another. i've never heard of bookish, but will check it out.

    also i completely support your decision to not finish books you don't enjoy! life is very short, and there are lots of books to read. also, thanks for sharing with US the books you don't find compelling. it's helpful!

  4. Hmm, I haven't read NW yet, so this is interesting. I liked On Beauty, but I do think that as clever and as incredibly talented as Zadie Smith is, I've read just as good contemporary novels that haven't received half the attention she's gotten. It's weird, I want all good books to get attention!



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