One more book I stole borrowed from my friend Kael. Although I didn’t much like the blub, Hunger—a novel by Elise Blackwell—appealed to me because of its slimness (129 pages, 1.5 spacing, one-inch margins on all sides! GIANT LETTERS!), and because of the cover. If I’d seen it in a book sale, I would have bought it for those very reasons (Kael got it from a booksale himself, for PhP99, or about $2).
I began reading it a couple of hours after reading and writing about Nick Hornby. I figured it would be a good book to plunge me back in the read-what-you-think-you-like world. Well. I thought I’d like it.
But no, I soon lost all hope. Eventually, I told myself to get a grip, and read other things.
See, I abandoned it on the thirtieth page, and resolutely put it back on the shelves. On any other day, I suppose I would have trudged on, amassing a list of complaints as I listlessly turned the pages. The “lyrical” language, its “disciplined economy of prose,” as the raves put it, shut me out. I couldn’t form a solid image in my mind, I couldn’t even see who the narrator was. Although I was vaguely conscious of an interesting plot—what I gathered was there was this scientist and it was Leningrad during the German siege; that the scientific institution he belonged to gathered specimens of rare plants from all over the world; that there’s a wife involved somewhere; that the scientists—caged inside their town—resort to sparingly nibbling on the specimens to survive—I didn’t connect to it. And I am very much aware that even in the recounting of the plot, I might have gotten it wrong. (Augh. Yes, I am aware that I didn’t connect to it is as flimsy a whine as any, but that’s really it; I didn’t care for people I couldn’t even envision. I didn’t care for a story told in a language that seemed to have a haze hanging over it.) The blurb claims the book is a sensual book, dramatic and passionate. I didn’t get a hint of that in those thirty pages.
Will I return to this book? Probably, reading through the remaining 99 pages, just to get it over with. Will this be any time soon? No, no, I don’t think so. I’m sorry, Miss Blackwell, we do not suit, not right now.
I feel like a new woman. (How dorky is it that I’m giddy over abandoning a book? Oh, Sasha, what bravery! What audacity! What inspiring display of contemporary ennui! Stuff it, Sash, stuff it.)