Tuesday, September 15, 2009

it's not you, it's me

I have just finished reading Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. It was published in 1932 and is a parody of gloomy, romantic English rural novels of the time as well as earlier novels by Thomas Hardy and the Bront√ęs.

I was glad it was quite a short read. The last book I read (The wind-up bird chronicle by Haruki Murakami - still working out what I think of that one) seemed to take a ridiculously long time to finish. And the previous book is still unfinished (The hour I first believed by Wally Lamb) - it was too huge and heavy to take on the ski trip, especially as I was mostly finished, so I allowed myself to start the Murakami instead.

Humorous novels often do leave me cold. I enjoyed the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series long ago but after that I didn't get far with any of Douglas Adams' heirs in the 'funny fantasy' field - I read a couple of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels but got over them pretty quickly too. In reading comedic fiction I often feel that the writing is too self-consciously clever, taking me out of the suspended reality of the story. I think it's simply 'not to my taste'. This is the polite phrase my nephew has been taught to use when he doesn't want to eat part of his dinner.

I don't think there's anything wrong with it; by many accounts Cold Comfort Farm is a brilliant and funny book. And I did laugh quite a few times. I just didn't love the experience of reading it. I think it's because when I read fiction I want to really engage with it. It can even be not the best writing or predictable, as long as something about it grabs me and I can manage to get a little bit lost in the story, whether it's wondering what happens next, or simply enjoying the ride even when you can see pretty much where it is going.

3 comments:

Bells said...

oh gosh really? Have you seen the movie? I will lend it to you? I came to the book via the movie and found it's one of those instances where the two really are best appreciated alongside one another. I found the book a lovely read!

As for the Wind Up Bird Chronicle, I was bored to tears. i never finished it which was a bit sad since the friend who gave it to me could not stop raving!

m1k1 said...

I know what you mean about the self consciously clever writing. I've just borrowed a couple of Jasper Fforde's books from my daughter, because past encounters with some of his books have amused me - but you have to be in the mood for silliness.
I thought the CCF series was very entertaining, but I haven't read the book.

dr k said...

hmmm no i havent read it either, there was something about it that never attracted me, whereas others like it might. an interesting review. it has made me think about having another look tho....