Pardon my being a bit cutesy with my choice of a title for this post. I figured for sure it would draw attention and probably generate some additional readers to my blog. No, this posting is not going to be what one would presume from the title but rather a discussion of books that I withdrew from reading before completion. Since I first started writing my blog most of what I have discussed have been reviews of books I recently read and how each of them has impacted me on the novel I am writing. Through some combination of good choices and good luck most of what I have read during this time has impressed and inspired me. A couple of works disappointed me but even those I completed reading and I found some benefit from the experience. Today in my “the glass is half empty” mindset I want to briefly comment on books that for one reason or another I did not finish reading. This will be the first of two such postings. Today’s discussion is about works of fiction that I did not complete. Part Two will involve works of non-fiction, or more specifically books that I have explored that deal with the actual craft of writing. Some of these works I do intend to revisit but for various reasons did not finish in my initial effort. So much for introductory comments.
The first book I want to mention is A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White. By all accounts this is a book I should read. The book is the first of White’s trilogy of autobiographical novels that deal with a young man’s coming of age and dealing with his homosexuality. Good grief, this is exactly the theme of the novel I am writing so it should have been a no-brainer to finish, right? To be honest I never got very far into the book, found it to be agonizingly slow and simply lost interest. The Publishing Triangle, the LGBT publishing association, has listed this as #14 on its list of 100 best lesbian and gay novels so I have to believe that the book deserves a second chance on my part. I think part of the problem for me was that I had just finished several novels which I found stunning and White’s book was taking too long to get me intrigued so I moved on to something else which I found more appealing. I have this back on my To-Read list and probably will give it another shot before long.
Best American Gay Fiction #2 edited by Brian Bouldrey and published in 1997 is the second volume in a series of short story collections which deals with gay life in contemporary America. By nature of its being a collection of twenty-one short stories, the reader has an opportunity to sample a host of authors and writing styles in one book, which I believed would be beneficial. Unfortunately I only got through four stories, finding just one of them to be worthwhile. That was the first story, “Il Paradiso” by Andrew Holleran, author of the widely read novel Dancer from the Dance which I had recently read. This was a rather depressing story of an afternoon an older man spends in a gay bath house where he frequently goes. During the time there he is consumed with self-loathing, longing to touch the young men he sees there, knowing how much they would reject his advances and refusing to fulfill his sexual cravings with men of his own age. Pretty much of a downer theme but still well written. The other three stories I found totally unsatisfying and as a result the book sits on my shelf now collecting dust. There may be some gems in the book. Since each of the stories is typically 20 pages or less, I might open it up again to find out. My hunch though is that I probably won’t; too many other books I want to read including one I am currently reading Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble. I will be reviewing that soon.