TPR Challenge #11 (ish) - Elizabeth Bishop

If you've been paying attention, you'll know I've been in a reading bog.  Really, I've been in a work bog that has curtailed my reading time drastically, but I've also been rather stuck in what reading I have been doing.  I have mentioned before that I am a one-book woman.  I know that behavior is rather anomalous in this book-blogging world, but it is true for me.  I am also STILL rather reluctant to leave a book unfinished.  I've tried (and improved somewhat), but I just can't abandon with ease.  So, I've been taking my measly reading scraps and trying to sustain myself on things that are not totally enjoyable.  Little surprise that I feel a little anemic and wasted.

The something that started the bog-gedness is TPR Challenge #11 - Elizabeth Bishop.  In December and January, I read The Complete Prose, some of The Complete Poems, and the TPR interview (volume 2), but I still didn't feel ready to write anything thoughtful about it.  So, I have actually put this project on hold for awhile and have been pursuing supposedly more interesting reading matter.  I plan to return to Bishop (and soon!), but I'm not making any promises.  In the meantime, I took down The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz with a certainty of purpose about me: I was going to make sure I enjoyed the next book I read.  I had been gushed at over this book by various trusted souls (NOT the girl down the street who thinks I would just LOVE Shopaholic and Baby if you know what I mean), and I selected it knowing it was a ringer.

And I don't like it.

Is there something wrong with me?  This feels like when you're young and you know you're supposed to like this guy, he's just perfect for you, and all signs point to happily-ever-after until you realize you don't actually have a thing for him at all.  It really makes you wonder if something is wrong.  And I'm wondering.  I'm reassured somewhat by the passion I still experience reading the short stories I teach and the excitement I feel over my kids getting to experience Vonnegut's Player Piano.  But I still can't help but wonder why I'm not enjoying any of the books I read.  Is it becoming too much of a job?  I don't feel that blogging has changed the way I read at all, but could it be affecting my enjoyment? 

The thing about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is that I don't think all signs pointed to happily-ever-after for me if I'd known more about it in advance.  So maybe it was just bad luck.  Maybe if I'd encountered it in an otherwise fruitful reading time, I wouldn't have seen it as some portent of doom.  Maybe if I'd known how much of it was Spanish or fragmented or otherwise not careful language, I would have recognized it as not a great fit for me.  But I didn't, so I'm left wondering.

I'm not finished yet, though, so I'm holding out judgment and a full post until that time.  Maybe it will end up meaning something more to me in the end.  Or maybe I'll just have to try even harder to find the next book that will shake me out of my reading doldrums.  I know it's out there.  I just have to find it.


  1. I'm sorry you didn't like Oscar Wao--it's one that I don't really recommend to others because when we read it for book club (my choice), I was the only one who really liked it. The language was a bit offputting for the others and I think just the overall style. It's one that I'd love to read again one day but know it's not for everyone. I'm actually working on a post right now for a book that *everyone* loves but I didn't. Makes you question yourself, huh? ;)

    You have me very curious about Emily Bishop! Definitely need to look her up.

    Happy Thursday!

  2. Thanks, Trish. I think it was the overall style more than anything else. I'm still working on a post that will articulate what I was struggling with. We'll see how that goes. I saw your post this morning about The Knife of Never Letting Go. Not one I've read, but I definitely know that feeling of failure. Was it me? Or something I ate?