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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

reading hevvy

Just about all of my reading is done for a purpose. Only occasionally do I read a book for "general knowledge", and almost never do I read a book "for fun".

Sound dreary? It isn't. For one thing, life is short, and I don't really have enough hours in it to read all the purpose-driven material that I want. But for another, those "fun" things, to me, aren't fun. Before long my eyes glaze over and I find I'm not picking up that book any more to continue on with it. I'm back to a full slate of motivated, "serious" reading.

What was the last thing I read for fun? Trying to recall... Two or three years ago I would sometimes peruse the paperback racks at the library, looking for something I might find entertaining. Mainly I had no luck. The racks there were filled with novels from series that for the most part lacked the first volume (presumably it was always checked out).

I remember going on a little vacation with Kimmie and Robin back in 1990--something we very seldom ever did, partly due to lack of money. This was a relatively cheap getaway to the Gulf Islands nearby. We were going to stay in rustic little cabins, ride our bicycles, and just relax. I took along some light "summer" reading, the sci-fi novel Count Zero by William Gibson. It had been a while since I'd read any science fiction--a staple of my youth--and Gibson was its hottest practitioner at that time. Here was my chance to kick back and enjoy some escapist fare.

Sitting at a quiet table in a cabin on Mayne Island, while deer moved silently outside, eating the motel owner's flowers, I tucked in to Gibson's cyberpunk novel. I felt a bit of a buzz as I started, at the imaginative settings and his tough, cynical style, but before long it palled on me. I finished the book, but I was not drawn in and carried along by the current of story as I used to be as a boy. I wasn't able to fully buy into the characters or the situation, even though I really liked the idea of futuristic hacker-jockeys moving through a virtual-reality space, breaking into data banks (I think that's what was in the book). It seemed that sci-fi reading was something I could not go back to, any more than I could go back to playing with Hot Wheels or Lego. Had I become entertainment-proof?

Well, my reading may not be "fun", but I do enjoy it. To me, this is fun. And it's hard to engage me in a story. Mostly what I think is, "so what?" Of course, I'm writing a king-sized story of my own now--one that I intend to be readable by me or people like me (if any such exist). I need to be reading about stuff that matters, and therefore that's also what I need to be writing about.

So right now it's Dante's Inferno for me. Not "reading lite". Maybe I need my own marketing phrase--how about "reading hevvy"?


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3 Comments:

  • I find reading some books hard to do myself - If you end up not liking the book, you spent all that time reading instead of watching a bad movie for maybe 2 hours. It's quite the predicament I think.

    Have you ever found yourself in that situation?

    By OpenID Squall635, at September 24, 2008 1:49 PM  

  • i also like reading but only newspapers and magazines..m not into heavy reading..when i was in school..i liked comics too.

    By Blogger pal, at September 25, 2008 3:58 AM  

  • Hi. Yes, well, life is short--so I cut my losses if I'm not enjoying something I'm reading or watching. I'll definitely throw a book aside if it's not satisfying me, and often a movie too.

    By Blogger paulv, at September 26, 2008 7:16 AM  

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