I feel somehow I ought to finish books I begin, but then I'm overwhelmed by how very short a time we get to live, and I throw them gleefully aside.
SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison
This woman has won the Pultizer, and I was all ready to love her work. I found this one however to be in essence a fakey pastiche of Zora Neale Hurston. Here's the paragraph that broke this camel's back:
I worked right alongside my father. Right alongside him. From the time I was four or five we worked together. Just the two of us. Our mother was dead. Died when Pilate was born. Pilate was just a baby. She stayed over at another farm in the daytime.
TULIPOMANIA: THE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST COVETED FLOWER AND THE EXTRAORDINARY PASSIONS IT AROUSED by Mike Dash
Reinforcing my prejudice against books with colons in the title, I found this to be a dull book on a promising subject. The promising subject was the fact that in the eighteenth century there was a bubble, not so much in tulips, as in tulip futures, with single bulbs changing hands for vast fortunes, This struck me as an interesting paradigm for thinking about our various contemporary bubbles, but no such luck. The only interesting thing I learnt from this book was that in the nineteenth century the Ottoman Emperors used to let a condemned run a race of half a mile with their executioner. If you won, you lived; if not, you died.
GERALD DURRELL: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY by Douglas Botting
I read the first eighty pages of this over someone's shoulder. It's a pretty interesting book about a very successful life. He doesn't pull any punches, either, about how successful:
All the Indians agreed that I was a special baby, and that I had been born with a golden spoon in my mouth and that everything during my lifetime would be exactly as I wished it. Looking back at my life, I see that they were quite right.Check out the bookcover though. I can't believe that turned out exactly as he wished it.
THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco
A murder mystery set in a monastery. Dull and self-consciously postmodern.