Reader’s Strike

January 31, 2008

I’m reading Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 again. Over the summer, I read Heller’s Good As Gold— well, most of it. About 20 pages from the end I stopped. I realized I didn’t care. It just wasn’t that great of a book. I had been pulled on by bits of Heller’s signature wit and wordplay and the notion that I couldn’t make a full assessment of the book until I finished it. But Heller didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. You enter a contract when you open a book: the author will entertain you, and you will entertain him. The author entertains you with prose. You entertain his ideas, his concepts, his innermost yearnings, etc. Good As Gold displays Heller’s skill, but its value, for me, stopped there. I realized that I didn’t really care what happened after the page I was on. The book had breached our contract. And so I struck back with the most devastating weapon a reader wields: my indifference. I stopped reading.

Halfway through Catch-22 again, I remember why Heller is a known author, but I also remember why he is known as the author of Catch-22.

What books/authors have failed you? Side Question: What books have you read and appreciated as art but put down with the knowledge that you would probably never pick them up again?