I started my 91 Days of Summer assignment with the intention to read more books. I’ve already quit two. Morale is low.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect to have much trouble with this project. After finishing A Game of Thrones in little more than a week, I was proud to have read a book from cover to cover for the first time in a very long time. High off of the warm “I finished a book!” fuzzies, I moved onto the next title in my current pile, The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort. I was prepared to settle in for a story of wild, 1990s-style excess until my eyes started to glaze over after a few hundred pages. I think I was done in by Belfort’s lengthy and surprisingly lifeless description of his home life. The moment by moment commentary of his drug fueled helicopter ride, being chastised and later captivated by her sexual teasing (in front of their child, no less) felt lacking in excitement and energy. I guess I was expecting a Wall Street version of Fear and Loathing. Belfort doesn’t have the same command of language like Thompson did. This is an unfair comparison, but Thompson is the only other author I know to write about their recreational drug use.
After putting up with The Wolf of Wall Street as much as I could, I decided to quit. I felt uneasy about it until I thought to myself, what is the point in suffering through something I didn’t like? I then turned to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Beyond a few issues of Sandman, two episodes of Doctor Who, and a long forgotten read through of Good Omens, I never took the time to actively pursue Gaiman’s novels. As such, my expectations for American Gods were high because of his followers and that the novel won the Hugo and Nebula awards. It had to be good, right?
Just like Wall Street, it didn’t take long for me to start losing interest. I grew dismayed. I really thought I’d be instantly drawn into Gaiman’s world. Instead, I could only stand on the outskirts, struggling to find something – anything! – interesting in the novel. Confusing me further was that the novel’s premise seemed pretty interesting, framing a man’s search for meaning post-prison life against the struggle between old European gods and new, very American deities. The story failed to dig its hooks into me after five chapters. I couldn’t even muster the energy to fake interest. I took my woes to Twitter and discovered through two Darkstationers that American Gods was a polarizing novel among readers. What a great way to start, right? I don’t feel so bad now about quitting it now. I am not done yet with Gaiman yet and will start The Ocean at the End of the Lane based on the recommendation from my very well read fiancee.
I hope that my next entry will be an actual book review instead of another “Didn’t Finish!” mark on the summer reading scoreboard.