Books I've Finally Managed to Finish

Some books just don't start well for me and it requires an effort to stick with them. Sometimes that effort is rewarded with a great story. Mansfield Park took 100 pages for me to really get into it. Even something as light and fluffy as Spying in High Heels didn't get going for 40 pages or so. I'll take slow start/great ending over great start/bad ending any day.

It doesn't always end well. Sometimes slow start ends in worse ending. Over the past months I've experienced the highs and lows of slow starts.

1. Caribou Island by David Vann   It took 3 false starts to finally finish this one. It never actually sailed along and it is as depressing as a 20 hour Alaskan mid-winter night but I respect it. Great writer. Maybe in need of Prozac or Lexapro; or just a few hours of Chappelle's Show.

2. Deadly Little Secret by Kathryn Casey   Spending over 50 pages with someone who is scared they are going to be murdered and who you know will be murdered is a little ghoulish. That made the first part of this book tougher going than is usual for Kathryn Casey. It definitely improves. This isn't her best but it's still worthy of any true crime fan's time.

3. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen  I've been on a classics kick lately and this is one of the books that's been sitting on my shelf, mocking me, for years. I finally tackled it last month and although it didn't grab me until the end of Volume 1, after that I couldn't put it down. According to the introduction in the edition I read this is Austen's "most complex and least likable novel." I can see why but it is definitely worth reading.

4. Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile by Gyles Brandreth  How do you make Oscar Wilde boring? If you're looking for lessons on that, and I can't imagine why anyone would, then seek out the first 50 or so pages of this book. Recounting famous incidents from Oscar's life isn't the best idea if you're going to make them dull. The mystery, once it gets going, isn't bad though perhaps needlessly complex and the evocations are 1890s decadence are a hoot.

I'm currently reading (listening to) Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers and it suffers from another complaint: draggy middle section syndrome. The dialogue is snappy, although I don't see how Lord Peter Wimsey makes it through all those books without someone telling him to shut up and the narrator is making the most of it. But page after page about fingerprints - the lifting of them, leaving of them, photographing of them, measuring them, etc - is over the top, and not in a campy way.  Well, it's on the list so I'm going to finish it.

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