March 28, 2005

The Hours, Virginia Woolf, and just a dash of Dude, Where's My Car?

When I checked The Hours out of the library, the woman at the counter clutched at her chest and said, "Oh! How I loved this book. I wish I hadn't read it yet so I could read it for the first time all over again."

That is a good recommendation. I know what she means. There have been books in my life that I hated to finish, and couldn't bear to let go. Off the top of my head:

Bel Canto, by Ann Pachett. I don't know how I even started reading this book, because a story about a Japanese businessman's esoteric love connection with an opera singer is not usually something that would pique my interest. But it ended being such a beautiful story, with all sorts of interesting people in it. It stayed with me for a long time.

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. I knew it had to come to an end - we all know what happens to the Wicked Witch of the West - but it was very easy for me to get wrapped up in the world that Maguire created. And creepy.

Watermelon, by Marian Keyes. My first Marian Keyes book, and my favorite. Not too deep, not too shallow, funny and sweet. I remember this book was the perfect comfort food during a difficult time for me, and so I have fond memories of it, and never wanted it to end.

However, with The Hours ... I don't know, maybe I was in a bad mood (I kind of was) when I read this. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, but I felt cynical, and extra critical of it, which inhibited my enjoyment. I do like the idea of a tribute novel, and I don't mind reusing storylines per se, but I felt like Michael Cunningham's love for Virginia Woolf's writing was a little heavy-handed. Whereas Mrs. Woolf wrote page-long sentences that were sort of stream-of-consciousness and organic to the story, Mr. Cunningham just wrote extra-long sentences. I see what he was trying to do, but I couldn't get lost in the story, because I was so distracted by the fact that the author was trying to evoke the early author. Maybe I shouldn't have read Mrs. Dalloway first, after all, so that Woolf's writing style wouldn't have been so fresh in my mind, and I could have better appreciated Michael Cunningham's artistry. He won a frickin' Pulitzer, so obviously someone thought it was good.

All that being said, it's not that I didn't like the book. I liked it fine. I just didn't feel the love like so many other people do.

And then (NO AND THEN!), since I was in a Virginia Woolf state of mind, I decided to reread A Room of One's Own (Book #12). I love that book, but I'm not going to ramble on about it here, because everything I love about it is the same stuff that has been making college girls swoon for decades - girl power, having the courage to be yourself, trying to be an artist ... you know what it's about. So anyway, it was Virginia Woolf month Chez Draggletail, and it was decent. I feel like I should do Mrs. Woolf more justice here, but like I said, she's been better analyzed elsewhere, forever, so we'll leave it at that.

3 comments:

Rebecca said...

We read Wicked for book club, and none us liked it, mostly because it felt half-finished, and that the author had left some important thoughts and ideas unexplored. Maybe we missed something - have you read anything else by him?

Rebecca said...

We read Wicked for book club, and none us liked it, mostly because it felt half-finished, and that the author had left some important thoughts and ideas unexplored. Maybe we missed something - have you read anything else by him?

Ms Draggletail said...

Hmm... I think you're right, about Wicked seeming unfinished - maybe that's another reason I didn't want it to end? It felt abrupt? Shoot, now it was so long ago. I did read all of his other books, as well: Hated Lost, and I liked the Snow White and ugly stepsister ones well enough, but I liked Wicked the most. I suppose that's not a great recommendation for the others, if you didn't like that one... :)