The first book I read and didn't like very much was Kristin Kimball's The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, And Love. I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it very much. It's a memoir of sorts in which the author describes how she, a Harvard graduate living in NYC and making her living as a writer, fell in love with a hippie farmer type guy and chucked everything to run off, marry him, and start a new farm. I mean, that sounds good, right? That sounds INTERESTING. Their farm is a whole-diet farm, meaning they aim to provide their subscribers/customers with EVERYTHING they need to eat, from dairy products to a variety of meats to flours to dried beans to MAPLE SYRUP, for crying out loud! How could a book about THAT go wrong?
I'll tell you how: tone. The author has one, and it can be described in one word, and that word is "elitist". She is an elitist, and she has an elitist tone. At first I thought she was doing it on purpose, emphasizing the fish-out-of-water thing and setting herself up for the big epiphany she has halfway through the book in which she realizes that hey! Maybe farmers aren't stupid after all! Yeah, maybe some of them are even every bit as smart as the ad execs she knew back in NYC who went to college and stuff! Mind-blowing, eh?
But no, the tone continues far beyond that light bulb moment. After a few too many comments about how the impoverished kids she went to school with were snot-nosed and filthy, and how Amish men wear the same glasses that the kids in shop class wear (what?!), and how she eventually built up enough upper-body strength that she was able to make her way through the barn with a full pail of milk in each hand "like a Chinese peasant", I just ... yeesh. I decided she wasn't doing it on purpose. She was just kind of a jerk, and she probably didn't even realize it, and that made me kind of sad while reading the book. It was certainly well-written in terms of her ability to put a sentence together, and parts of it were fascinating, but I ended up not liking it (or her) very much.
So then I started The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot and hey, guess what? I didn't like that one either. I bought it because it won the Pulitzer and because I had heard someone talk about it somewhere, sometime, I don't know. I almost gave up on it just a few pages in, because there were FOOTNOTES, which I find obnoxious in a work of fiction. But I stuck with it for 50 pages, and then I had to bail out. I just didn't care about the characters at all, despite the fact that the main character was from the Dominican Republic (I had a childhood friend from there) and was a giant sci-fi nerd (I married one). I found the writing sort of dense and disjointed and borderline incomprehensible. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for that sort of book, I don't know. But life is too short to read books you don't love, right? Right!
After bailing on Oscar Wao I started reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, and it LOOKS good and I think it probably IS good but I'm having a hard time getting into it for some reason. I'm reading the hardback version because that's what was available at the super cheap library bookstore where I buy most of my
I should probably just go do that then, eh? Yep, I think so. Glad we got that all worked out.