Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Givin' it up

I am sorry to say that I have given up my Eudora Welty reading for this 100th birthday year. I tried. I tried a novel. I tried many short stories. And they didn't keep my interest. I didn't care about the characters or what happened to them. And that word characters is key. They seemed like characters in a story instead of real people, people I could connect with, people I was absorbed with. I am regretful. I was so excited about this little reading venture. But it is what it is. Some people love Virginia Woolf and others don't. Some love Ernest Hemingway and others don't. Some think The Great Gatsby one of the greatest books of all time and others can't get through it. In the book Light on Snow, one of Anita Shreve's characters says,

I pick up a book I've been reading off and on, more off than on, a sign that I'll probably abandon it soon.

Well, that's the way it has been these past few days for me with Eudora. I still have fond memories of the woman herself on the Dick Cavett show, but her writing, her subject matter is just not for me.

28 comments:

  1. What an interesting post, Nan! I've only read two things by her -- One Writer's Beginnings (which I loved), and The Optimist's Daughter (which I enjoyed, but probably won't read again). I don't know how I will feel about any of her other works. But I completely understand that her novels didn't work for you. I've had similar experiences with other authors that I thought I would love and didn't, and it's important to be willing to 'give it up' if it's not the right time or the right feeling. Life's too short!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Robin. I'm a big believer in dropping what I don't love. In the short story collection, I tried story after story and just didn't like them. I'm keeping my copy of One Writer's Beginnings and a nonfiction work called Eye of the Story which is critical pieces on writing. But that's it. All the others which have sat on my shelf for 20+ years are going to the library for the annual book sale.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with you. I'm no fan of Eudora Welty; so far. I'll hold judgment until I've read more.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You know, I love this post. As a years ago lit student through to my librarian gig now, I have run into so many people who assume everyone loves all the classics and all the famous books and if you don't, perhaps you are just uneducated etc...and yet they are writers, each one not everyone's cup of tea. Hoorah hoorah for not slogging through things one thinks one should read...and read what fills you with passion! Hoorah!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the quote you used here from Shreve's book. You tried and it just wasn't a good fit at the time....happens to me a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have never read Welty so I cannot comment on that...on a different note however...I love opening your blog today. Being greeted by the sheep was lovely. I was expecting the deer, which always amaze me because there are so many of them. But that one sheep just sort of staring at me this morning was such a nice surprise. You gave me my first smile of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've only read Delta Wedding and found it very atmospheric. I was interested in her because of her friendship with Elizabeth Lawrence, the gardening writer. Frustratingly, all my gardening books are still in boxes somewhere, or I'd write something about her.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with Robin - Life's too short to read what you aren't enjoying. I'm sure another, more enjoyable, book is already in your hands! For some reason,the mention Eudora Welty gets a negative reaction from me (maybe short stories that I didn't like)in high school, but I'll try and read her again sometime.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sometimes the best ending is simply closing the book!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I loved One Writer's Beginnings but found myself mired by her other books as well. Hmmm, wonder how she's stayed so popular for so long? It's funny how one book will grab someone and pull them in, only to chase another away. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm so glad you wrote this post, Nan. I've been doing the same thing - picking up and putting down one of Jacqueline Winspear's books - this is the second of hers that I've not finished.

    Now I'll finally put this book down, take it back to the library, and get on with two others that are waiting for me.

    Robin said it - life's too short

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi! I stopped by to use your Lost links, and I noticed how nice your blog is looking! How do you do it? I am too computer illiterate to ever spruce mine up.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have had the same experience...where I read a fascinating biography or interview of an author, and then try to read their writing and it just doesn't click. I always feel a little sad but like you I find I am still fond of the author. But I think that is the best outcome of a situation like this...the work may not be a fit but the author is:)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well done for giving up, there are so many wonderful books with wonderful characters, it is a shame to toil through something that is just not gelling for us. A relief to hear too, as I have given up on two books in the last week, with regret, as I thought I would enjoy them.
    I love the sheep!

    Carole

    ReplyDelete
  15. I always feel like a traitor to the South when I admit I just can't get through Eudora Welty! Something just stops me every time.

    I also appreciate the way you know when there's no point in devoting any more time and/or energy to a certain book. Life's too short. And there are so many books out there as yet unread!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I just did the same thing with the book "Grace of a Hedgehog." So many people love it, but I could tell just a few pages in that it wasn't for me. With so many books on my "to read" list, and so little reading time because of my kiddos, I have to be ruthless with my choices!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've long ago given up my feelings of guilt when I don't complete a book. I always felt obligated to finish one I've started. But as Robin says, life's to short! If a book doesn't grab me by the first few pages, I'm gone.

    Sometimes when your perspective changes, when your position in time changes, the book changes too. But after 20+ years, I'd say the opinion and taste is well formed by then. Time to move on. As horrible as that might sound...

    Focusing more on poetry these days - just feels so much more comfortable to read a few, then put it down, then read a few more...
    You "sip" at poetry...rather than devour...less guilt inducing... :)
    - J.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well, I just loved reading all your comments, my friends. Each one was so wise, interesting, and encouraging. I don't feel badly because I've long been a believer in quitting a book I don't like, but I think it was just such a surprise. I was sure I loved her writing. I've owned her books for decades (really!) and thought this was going to be my year for reading them. I should have had an inkling since just last year I didn't care for The Ponder Heart, and before that I didn't even finish a re-reading of Delta Wedding. Anyhow, thanks again so much for taking the time to write such thoughtful (and humorous, Mindy!) comments.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I know about Eudora's writing but I loved One Writer's Beginnings. LOVE your sheep. Does he or she belong to YOU?

    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  20. Bonnie, yes, he is our ram (wether). We have six in all.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I do admire your honesty. Perhaps one has to be brought up in the South to fully appreciate Miss Welty. Her characters are very recognizable to me. I could easily introduce you to a face behind the voice in Why I Live at the P.O. any day of the week! Strange, strange place the South, but Miss Welty got it right.

    PS.... but Virginia Woolf is my favourite!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Phew! My first thought upon seeing your post title was that you were giving up blogging!! What a relief to learn it's just a book that's getting the boot.

    I understand your feelings about Welty. I wrote the following after reading The Optimist's Daughter:

    It seems a bit sacrilegious for me to give such a low rating to an esteemed author. (And to a Pulitzer Prize winning book, to boot!) But unfortunately, The Optimist’s Daughter didn’t do a thing for me. I didn’t find Welty’s prose lyrical or evocative. The plot, such that it was, was dull and unremarkable. I found it difficult to care about any of the main characters and the supporting cast failed to come to life, forcing me to flip back and forth in an attempt to refresh my memory as to who was who.

    You can read the full review on my blog by clicking on the title above.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Pamela, I've been thinking about what you said, and I don't think it is the southern characters necessarily because I love Rick Bragg. His people are my people. I know them deep in my heart and memory. I also love Bailey White and believe in her people, both the nonfiction and the fiction. But Eudora seemed to feature more just plain weird, and/or sad ones. And I'm not wild about the little touch of gothic; I felt a little scared like a child walking in the dark woods alone.

    Les, you may want to read the first comment, Robin's, about TOD. As far as prizes go, too often they mean I won't like a book or an author. :<) And if I were going to give up blogging, I'd tell you before I announced it here!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I was at the local library book sale today and picked up a book called "Foot notes on Nature." It was written by Karl Kieran and published in 1947. If you ever find it anywhere I just know you would love it!

    ReplyDelete
  25. So I could talk you out of it, right? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks so much, hip chick. I just wrote the title in my 'books to check out' book.

    Les, I always listen to you. :<)

    ReplyDelete
  27. There's nothing worse than slogging through a book you simply can't get on with! And as you say, there are plenty of other books out there waiting to be discovered. I have yet to read Eudora Welty, so I can't comment on her work, though I'd like to give her a try sometime. On a related note, she actually took photos before she was published. Some are in the April issue of Smithsonian magazine. If you see it on the newsstand, maybe it's worth flipping through. Maybe there is something different by her you might end up appreciating (not words this time, but photos). :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you, Danielle for your comment. And I love her photos. There are some books of photographs, and I've seen one of them. If you go to amazon and type in 'eudora welty photographs' you may check them out.

    ReplyDelete

Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.