Monday, September 12, 2005

Romantic comedies

There's this blog I like to go to, just because it's usually quite entertaining and full of stuff I can relate to, Living the Romantic Comedy (http://livingromcom.typepad.com), "In which Billy Mernit, author of "Writing the Romantic Comedy", explores the relationship between romance portrayed in the movies and experienced in so-called real life." Because I often feel like I'm trapped in some never-ending romantic comedy that never really gets romantic or funny. Sort of like many of the movies I find myself sitting through, LOL.

Anyway, the point today is a post he made a couple of days ago that I liked a lot, where he confesses that he has had to give up on reading Joyce's Ulysses. Bloom has gotten the best of him. My personal literary bete noire is Moby Dick. I have never, ever been able to get more than about 50 pages into that thing. There. I've said it. Maybe it's because I first read it in high school, a place that can suck the life out of the best books (if I didn't already love Austen by the time senior AP English rolled around, that reading of Pride and Prejudice would never have captured me). I kept falling asleep every time I started MD, but did get a 97% on the test after reading the Cliff's Notes. I'm not proud of this, but honestly, what is the point of counting how many times "whiteness" is mentioned?

I've always been a voracious reader, and will read almost anything and find SOMETHING to enjoy in it. After high school, I found a new appreciation for Hawthorne, even, which I hated in the 11th grade. I love Russian literature (it's the morbid in me, I guess), Middlemarch, Shakespeare, Proust, Flaubert, even Thomas Pynchon. Well, Mason and Dixon, anyway. Whatever. But MD--nope. It's my Ulysses, I guess. What's yours?

13 comments:

Megan Frampton said...

Ulysses, too. Never tried Moby Dick. Anthony Trollope's one of my bugbears, too.
And I haven't even tried to read Gravity's Rainbow, although my husband has, a few times.
I know there are more--I'm not as smart as I think I am, and some stuff just plain eludes me--but Ulysses is the one that immediately leaps to mind.

Bernita said...

Actually, about 2/3rds of any lit course I ever took...

Kay-Kay said...

Umberto Eco, most definitely. I've actually bought the last few books he wrote (which to me means I'm REALLY making an effort since I'm the public library's biggest mooch when it comes to new books) because they sound really interesting but I can't go more than a half dozen pages before I drop off to sleep or have to re-read because I can't remember what on earth he was talking about. Maybe it's all in the translation...
But Moby Dick...ahh, that brings back memories, all the bigness and whiteness. :)

mernitman said...

Hey Amanda, thanks for the shout-out -- and I'm glad I'm not alone in this (as comments on my post support as well), though now you've got me worried about "Moby"...

And Kay-Kay, I'm with you: I just struggled, struggled, struggled to not-quite-finish Eco's latest ("Queen Loana") -- ended up skimming the last third and just looking at the pictures!

Cicero_speaks said...

"He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it."

That about sums MD up. The two books I've never finished were "The Simarilion" by Tolkien and "Without Remorse" by Tom Clancy. For one, I was all of 10 so no wonder my attention waned. For the one by Clancy, it was his penchant for diving into the technical minutiae of all things military, rendering something cool into something boringly clinical.

Amanda McCabe said...

OK, I'm glad I'm not the only one with literary bugbears! I don't feel quite so much like a loser. :) I did actually once read Ulysses, and felt smugly proud of myself for a few days afterward, but I didn't ENJOY it. And should books really be something we put on a "things I should do before I die" list, just because we feel we "ought" to read them? Or should they be something we savor and love and really get new insights from? Or at least get a laugh out of. Something to ponder. :)

As for Eco, I really liked The Name of the Rose, but after that it was kind of downhill.

Kelli McBride said...

Dickens has always escaped me. Not because I don't understand what he's talking about, but I simply find him dreadfully dull.

I also dislike Joyce, Faulkner, and Hemingway (though I appreciate his writing style, just not his opinions).

Give me Shakespeare, the Ancient Greeks, Shelley, Byron, Coleridge, and Tennyson. You can keep your modernists (except TS Eliot), your postmodernists (except John Berryman), and most of the contemporary stuff that calls itself "literary."

Kelli
a literature teacher - ;-)

Megan Frampton said...

Oh, Umberto Eco! His The Island Of The Day Before lives in infamy in my book club as one of the most painful books we ever tried to read (worse even than Jesus: A Life which was interesting, but so pedantically written.

Cara King said...

One of the items on my list of things to accomplish in my life is "to never read CLARISSA." :-)

Cara

Kelli McBride said...

I had to read CLARISSA for a lit class. Arrgghhh!! Is it CLARISSA or PAMELA which has 1 million words? That's about 999,999 too many.

And what about Goethe's THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER? I was rooting for suicide or murder by a third of the way through the book!
And then - he misses, and I must endure languishing by the drip!

Megan Frampton said...

I am a geek. Not only did I read Clarissa, I've read it several times, and I read Pamela on my honeymoon. I only read that one once, though.
I've never even tried Goethe or Proust. Isnt life too short or something?

Gabi said...

My Ulysses list is too long to mention. Life is too short to spend time with a book one has to work at. I don't care if it's good for me. So are vegetables. I don't like them either.
--Gabi

Kelli McBride said...

I don't mind having to work hard to comprehend a book. I just don't like boring and poorly written books.