There was a time when ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ was my motto with books but now I recognise that I won’t have to pass an exam on this; it’s not Henry Esmond. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain put years on me. I felt chained by the ankle to a Guardian editorial, it would be ok. when we got to the salt mines. Humourless bien pensant worthiness. I left her at Chap. II smiling bravely. “Just popping out for a minute, shan't be long”.
Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow was another book that I abandoned in the bush. It’s as though Bellow set himself a task of writing about something he knew nothing about on the basis of some ancient National Geographics. A lot of bellowing. Herzog was a similar demented savant but didn’t have to carry the novel on his own. I enjoyed that.
Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis became a hymn to science, a vapour that refused to condense. It was episodic and somewhat like an engine with more gears than are feasible. Let’s go back to Meridian.There was a nicer sort of evil there and you knew who to hate. It was a small town but it contained the world.
I’m not sure about The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand. There is the sense that all those characters were at college with Menand’s great great grandfather and that their collective enlightenment was to result in Homo Menandis. My pause at page 179 may be a reculer pour mieux sauter or baulking. Life!