Monday, February 2, 2015

Epic Novels.

When I finish Shantaram, I think I will stay away from epic novels for a while.

Last Septemberish, I started to read "Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell." It is a 1000+ page epic novel. The following is from the wikipedia entry about this book -
An alternative history set in 19th-century England around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, it is based on the premise that magic once existed in England and has returned with two men: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Centring on the relationship between these two men, the novel investigates the nature of "Englishness" and the boundaries between reason and unreason, Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane, and Northern and Southern English cultural tropes/stereotypes. It has been described as a fantasy novel, an alternative history, and a historical novel. It inverts the Industrial Revolution conception of the North/South divide in England: in this book the North is romantic and magical, rather than rational and concrete. It can be usefully compared and contrasted with Elizabeth Gaskell's attempts at synthesising a unitary English identity in her fiction.
I got through about 320 pages. It is still sitting on my side table, waiting to be finished.  I am not sure if I will.  It is a grand novel.  It is well written.  It has footnotes that drive me mental.  It is a slow, carefully written novel that is at once really interesting, and then I meander off.  It is still sitting there, six months later, and every time I pick it up to read it, another book that I really want to read comes in from the library and I get distracted. Frankly, any other book that comes along is proving to be a distraction from this book.

Then there were a few novels I did manage to finish before Christmas, and I more or less hit my hopeful to read 50 books last year. I am sure I would have blown past that amount if it wasn't for this novel.  As I said, it isn't terrible, I just can't seem to find it in me to finish or give it back to the person that I borrowed it from.  *SIGH*.

As I mentioned, currently I am reading Shantaram, another epic novel clocking in at 930 pages, give or take.  It is moving along quicker... I am just about 500 pages in, and it has taken me just over two weeks to get here.  So, definitely a quicker read than Mr. Norrell.... but I am finding "epic novels" a bit of a deterrent right now. I am starting to crave the satisfaction of reading a few shorter novels, just to feel like I am "accomplishing" something when it comes to reading.  It feels kind of silly to put it that way, and yet that is kind of how it feels.  In the last six months, I really haven't read all that much, and yet, in some ways I have.  Between Norrell, Good Omens, and now Shantaram... it does feel like I stalled out.  Even in my book club we are trolling for inspiration.  If you are reading this - any novels that inspired you? We will likely look to some classics, but I am definitely open to so some new reads.  Out of what I did read last year... there weren't that many stand outs that I would shout the praise from about...

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