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Sunday, October 29, 2017

When you just can't read someone

Ken MacLeod. (Creative Commons photo by Patrick Nielsen Hayden.) 

Haven't we all had the experience of trying to read someone we "should" like, and discovering that we can't? I usually read a bit of horror fiction for Halloween, but I ran in to this phenomena a couple of days ago when I tried to read Hauntings by Vernon Lee. She's supposed to be great, she was recommended to me by critic Michael Dirda whose recommendations I often agree with, but I just couldn't get into her long sentences and finally gave up.

Years ago when I read one of Samuel Delany's nonfiction books, i discovered that he cannot ever finish anything written by Brian Aldiss. (I love Brian Aldiss). Ken MacLeod, the excellent Scottish science fiction writer, wrote an obituary/appreciation for Robert Anton Wilson after Wilson's death but confessed, "Recently I picked up the Illuminatus! trilogy again and was perplexed to find that I couldn't get into it."

I personally find Illuminatus! very easy to read; the structure and the plot are unusual, but on the sentence level, the works seems clear and interesting. But as RAW would say, my nervous system is not the same as yours.

1 comment:

Michael Meyer said...

More stranger still, I wonder at how certain authors change in my estimation as the years go by. Back in high school (when dinosaurs and Ronald Reagan still roamed the Earth), I HATED William Faulkner. I came across him again a few years ago and am amazed how much better he has become.
Also, "Lance Link: Secret Chimp" may not be as hilarious as I thought when I was four.