How long do you struggle with a literary masterpiece before you toss it aside and read an entertaining piece of trash?
I always feel guilty about not finishing a book - any book, really, but especially a work of genius by some medal-heavy Pulitzer prize winner. But here's the thing: I usually feel good when I finish one of these books, and I usually do learn a few things. I slogged across the endless desolation of pre-revolutionary Russia with Anna Karenina, and I was better for it in the end. When I got to the last page, I felt like I had been through a shining experience.
Moby Dick is another book like that. It's difficult to read, and by the time you reach the watery ending you feel like your quest to turn the last page is every bit as monumental as Ahab's pursuit of that damned whale.
I'm currently reading William Faulkner's novel, "As I Lay Dying." The book has an odd structure. The way he reveals the entire story of a family though the narratives of different characters is brilliant, but that doesn't change the fact that the story doesn't interest me.
Sorry, Will, but I don't think I'm going to make it.