Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Guns of August: My Slow Reading Progress

I continue to find myself intrigued with Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. I convinced my book club to choose it for our next book, and I've loaned it out. I can hardly wait to get it back. It's what I want to be reading, even though the book I'm reading is fascinating enough. Except that it's not fascinating enough for me to want to read it during every moment of my spare time. I like the premise more than the actual book.

I'm reading Blackout, by Connie Willis, about a group of future people who travel back in time to England during World War II. They're experiencing slippage; they've traveled back to times and locations where they're not supposed to have been able to be. They might affect the future! I keep reading, but more out of mild curiosity than suspense. I wonder how Willis will work this out.

I keep wondering why I'm not compelled. Is it because it's too long, and I don't have time to return to it as regularly as I need to in order to hold my interest? That's part of it, I guess. But what I suspect is the problem is that the cast of characters is too big, the historical background too broad. It feels like Willis did a lot of research and is determined to work in every bit. I skim a lot, and I'm still not making progress. I suspect that's what WWII felt like. We make progress, but we're no closer to the end.

On a New York Times blog site post, Jennifer Egan answers questions about her sense of time and her writing process. She writes on legal pads. She says she never writes or edits on a screen. Intriguing to me. I still write my first drafts of poems on lavender legal pads, but for prose, I compose on a computer. Whatever revising of prose I do, it's on a computer. My revision process, however, most depends on me being able to read my work out loud. It's where I hear the rhythm of the words and catch unwanted repetition.

Jennifer Egan has written other books, only one of which I've read. Perhaps once I slog through World War II, I'll return to Egan.

No comments: