Dump Day: Netherland

“Modern day Great Gatsby”–that’s what a review had described this as, which is what prompted me to purchase it. I love Gatsby, so how could this be passed up?

It could have been and my life would be no worse, in fact it might be better had I not read this.

Honestly, I’m not sure how it’s anything like The Great Gatsby, aside from the fact that they’re both set in New York City. I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to be about exactly. There’s a guy and he spends a lot of time talking about or referring to cricket.

Hans, the main guy, isn’t interesting. At all. He sort of just bumbles through thoughts and the city and interactions in the most disingenuous way that, as a reader, makes you feel nothing for him or his situation.

Unless you have to read it for a college class, it’s part of your book club, or you just really love cricket–skip it.


Dump Day: The Dharma Bums

On the Road was great. I fell in deep, unashamed love with Kerouac when I read that. But in The Dharma Bums, I fell a little out of love.

I bought a Selected Novels edition from Borders (bless their soul) when they went out of business in my town. I was so excited that I told myself I was going to read them all, consecutively and it would be pure reading magic.

After On the Road was finished I was even more certain of this reading magic. Once I got to the end of The Dharma Bums, the magic was gone.

While it still has the same voice and writing style as On the Road, it wasn’t nearly as engaging or entertaining. There was great imagery and I certainly ‘got’ the ideas and feelings being expressed, but what was once love for the supplanting of real life of Kerouac things became an annoyance.

Reading, or even hearing about, the spiritual journeys of others is often fascinating and something I’d definitely be into. And I thought this venture into Zen Buddhism would even more definitely be something I’d dig. Still a good book, just wound up a little disappointing and left me laying my Kerouac to rest on the shelf for awhile.

Dump Day: A Separate Peace

The setting: Sophomore English class with my BFF.

Sounds like a great time, right? Yeah, we were pretty amped to have a class together. However, we argued endlessly over this book. She loved it; I hated it.

What did I hate exactly? I found it boring mostly. Maybe if I reread it with 27-yr-old eyes I’d like it a little better, but the odds of that happening are…well…zero.

Even though I almost (read as totally) related to our lovely main character, Gene, I didn’t really give a crap about him at all. He was introverted and smart (score!), but he was also kind of a doormat when it came to anything his friend, Phineas, did/said/wanted to do or say. Just typing that made me annoyed and unhappy with this book all over again.

Anyway…the book finally ended (and I’d tell you what happened, as I remember it, but that’d be a major spoiler). My BFF, she cried. What did I do? I laughed–and it was not a laughable event that closed this fine piece of literature.

Dump Day: The Catcher in the Rye

Is this a shitty book, per se? No. I read it, didn’t hate it. Also, didn’t love it.

If you’re not of this generation it feels outdated and unrelatable. Holden Caulfield is a great character in my book snobbish eyes, but in my teenager of the 21st century eyes–he was little pretentious, whiny, and plain annoying.

What a bummer he got to stroll around the city on his own for an afternoon without the hassle of constant human contact via some sort of electronic device. The old soul in me wishes I could do that. But at the same time, I can’t relate to how Holden feels.

For one: I’m an only child. The bond and love he has for his little sister is beyond comprehension to me.

For two: Holden’s “rebellion” isn’t really rebellious at all compared to things I’ve seen, or heard of, my peers doing. He got expelled, skipped town so his parents wouldn’t realize it until after Christmas break (see he’s considerate of other people), and he’s got mad respect for women.

He’s concerned about Jane (considerate again) and shops for a gift for his little sister (more consideration). Yet how he ends up in a mental instituation was always unclear to me. I wanted to know what caused the breakdown, or at least how it played out and when.

All in all, it was a good read. An easy read. But it wasn’t really satisfying or as magnificent as my mom made it out to be. Granted, she could have been Holden’s Jane when she read it and therefore probably related far more than I could. Plus, the thought of it being banned–for profanity–baffles me to this day.

Dump Day: Anna Karenina

Maybe my dislike isn’t fully founded. I never actually finished the book. But, I do love Russian lit–especially from this period.

I’m not a big Tolstoy fan, even when it comes to short stories. However, I thorougly enjoy Hadji Murad. So maybe my opinion is still worthy. I tried reading this after a professor I liked recommended it under the pretense that it is his best novel and would change my mind about Tolstoy.

At first, I was into it. There was a lot of family history and back story and all that I expected from such a book. I read approximately half of it, and until that point I truly believed I was being swayed to the Tolstoy camp. But then it started to slow down and talk a lot about some sort of horse race and…I gave.

It took me about a year to get that far into it. I persistently read other books at the same time because I thought it’d keep me from getting too tired or discouraged after Anna Karenina slowed down. Yet it didn’t. However, I will go ahead and admit that the ultimate downfall is simply that I do not like Leo Tolstoy. Sorry.