“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”
“There’s no accounting for taste.”
“Different strokes for different folks.”
I occasionally see the novel Geek Love by Katherine Dunn listed on someone’s list of best novels ever read. I understand that the novel’s themes of family, love, and normality make it appeal to a lot of people, but I just could not get past the notion that anyone—even someone fictional—would purposely engineer birth defects in order to create a bigger and better freak show.
But I did learn from Geek Love. What this novel taught me is that I don’t need to finish every book I start. I was around 40 when I ran into it and still thought that once I had started a book, I was obligated to finish it. I had seen Geek Love described as imaginatively inventive or something and thought I might enjoy it. I gave it about 100 pages, but I simply couldn’t get past that revolting premise.
Geek Love was the first novel I DNF (did not finish).
Fast forward about 25 years. I see a post by a blogger complaining about A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. The blogger has written something like “I had to stop reading this book. Nobody could have as much trauma in his life as Jude had.” And my heart nearly breaks.
Because, you see, A Little Life is on my list of the top five novels I’ve ever read.
More recently, I saw a comment somewhere by a person who complained “I couldn’t finish The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It wasn’t making any sense.”
I knew I should have bitten my tongue and moved on, but I just couldn’t. I loved that book. (This novel truly is imaginatively inventive.) So I gently suggested that the confusion was a big part of the book’s meaning and all would become clear at the end. A while later I received an email informing me of a reply to my comment. The reply went something like this: “Well, that may be so, but I’m not finishing it.”
This time I did bite my tongue and move on. But I thought, “Too bad. It’s your loss.”
Different strokes for different folks, and so on and so forth.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown