David Mitchell once wrote “A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.”
When do you break up with a book? When is it OK to gently let the book down, protesting that you, clearly, are to blame, and walk away?
I fear that my break up with Sunnyside by Glen David Gold is imminent.
Gold’s 650 (on my Nook) page opus started out so promising. Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp appears to people all over the country at the same time on the same day. Leland Wheeler is a young man unhappy with his life tending a lighthouse. Hugo Black, an intellectual from Detroit, enlists in WWI.
On the surface, Sunnyside has everything I require in a great read:
- More than 400 pages? Check!
- Historical fiction set in the beginning of the 20th century? Check!
- Lots of characters with interesting back stories? Check!
- Fictionalized real people? Check!
But Sunnyside just isn’t doing it for me. Some of the story lines are very interesting. I’m loving the Chaplin sections. I’m even vaguely interested in Leland (Lee, at this point), and his rescued puppies (who doesn’t love puppies?!). I’m hating the Hugo sections. Have you read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay? Hugo in Russia=Josef in Antarctica. Gold spends too much time outlining military actions for me. Rebecca’s character? What’s her deal? Plus, and maybe most importantly, I haven’t had the urge to underline a single passage. Not one. I love old Hollywood, and I should be loving this book, but I’m just not.
Plus, as always, there is the draw of other books. After a dismal workshop on bullying, a friend re-recommended Columbine by Dave Cullen. Ryan is reading The Blind Assassin, a book I’d love to sink my teeth into again. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall has me intrigued. Jonathan Safran Foer’s brother has a book that comes out next week (have I mentioned JSF is my literary boyfriend? Because he is.). Plus, I’m excited about reading The Paris Wife which came out today, although I’ll probably wait until I’m on my way to Paris (!) in a few weeks (!!) to start that one.
So why am I still involved with Sunnyside? Why did I spend two hours in the airport this weekend reading it? Well, for one, it was recommended by someone whose taste I trust. For another, I’m already on page 400. If we break up now, I’ll always wonder what might have been.
So I’ll stick with Sunnyside, even though we’ve lost our chemistry. Hopefully the ending is amazing, and I’ll be eating my words next week.
When do you abandon a book? Or, are you one of those “I finish every book I start?” people? How do you know when it’s time to let go?