Crying “Uncle!”

A little while back I wrote about feeling underwhelmed by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I surmised that the story contained way too much tell and not nearly enough show. Holy Batcave, I had no idea how much worse it could get.

I just slogged through 60 pages of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James,portrait of a lady cover and am giving up. Publicly. Because while I felt letdown by Conrad’s penchant for telling his reader how to feel about his characters, at least Heart of Darkness was relatively brief. Not so with The Portrait of a Lady which is a whopping and mind-numbingly verbose 550 pages. And many, many of those 550 pages consist of one long paragraph that continues for another page or more.

I conceded defeat on page 61. James wrote: “When Isabel was interested, she asked a great many questions . . .”

Really, Mr. James? You felt the need to smack this reader over the head, AGAIN, with that tidbit of information? You didn’t think all the time you’d already spent committing mind-masturbation on Isabel Archer would be enough?! I read your words and understood you wanted me to grasp that everyone around Isabel views her as a bright and independent young woman who values her independence, and that Isabel also considers herself to be bright and independent and so lives her life accordingly which means asking lots of questions so she can continue being, you know, bright and independent.

Life’s too short. There are oodles of other books on my shelves I haven’t yet read.

In Which I Reveal My Own Heart of Darkness

I don’t ever blog about books I’ve read unless I want to recommend them to others. But because the author has long since departed, I think it’s okay for me to be publicly vocalize my feelings of WTF?!

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. A book that feels like a whole lotta tell and not a whole lotta show. We’re told, over and over and over again, that Kurtz is an extraordinary man who holds people in his thrall. But when Kurtz finally showed up in the story, I did not find him believable or compelling. He just felt to me like some guy who’d lost his mind in the jungle. I was given no reason to believe the native people would be heartbroken at his departure. (Unless they were upset because they’d never get the chance to exact revenge on him for putting those heads on those poles.)

So. That’s my take on Heart of Darkness. Deep, huh?

And now, apropos of nothing, here’s a squirrel:
squirrel in peanut feeder 031