Tuesday, August 3, 2010

1/2 books: Books I only got halfway through

It's the age old question: How far do you continue to read when a book has lost your interest? Some friends feel obligated to see the thing through, but not me. Life's too short and the list of books I want to read is too long! Here are two books that held such promise I stuck with them through the first halves, long after I first heard that familiar voice in my head whisper, "This is not working, move on!" In this case, two half-books do not equal one!
I loved Leah Stewart's "The Myth of You and Me," and so appreciated her sensibility, that I thought her newest offering would be a sure bet. I was hooked at the start -- Sarah and Nathan are getting ready to attend the wedding of two of their friends, when suddenly Nathan discloses that he has had an affair. Stewart's strength are her characters, so multi-layered and realistic, and usually this is all I need to be sucked in. Still, there just wasn't enough happening in "Husband and Wife" to hold me. Sarah's introspection held sway over the plot line and, well, I realized I just didn't care enough to read on and see if the two worked out their marriage.

Joshua Braff (Zach Braff's brother) penned this provocative sounding novel about the travails of a teenage boy enduring his parents divorce in the 70s. His father owns, and is trying to keep alive, one of Times Square's old-fashioned peep shows, while his mother becomes a baal t'shuva, returning to tradition and adopting the customs of the Hasidim. The only thing that stayed with me in this dark, depressing, and unbelievable novel was my embarrassment at the title. I started reading it on a plane, and realized I felt compelled to hide the cover, folding it under the book on the fold-out tray in front of me.
Next up: two books that couldn't be more different from each other. Denial, by Jessica Stern, is a memoir by an expert interrogator of terrorists, who reflects on the rape she experienced as a teenager and the PTSD it caused. "The Art of Racing in the Rain," by Garth Stein, is the story of the life of a man as told through the eyes of his dog. Stay tuned.

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