An Abandoned Book

Don’t you hate it when you can’t finish a book?

I recently began reading Pilgrim by Timothy Findley. I read his novel, The Piano Man’s Daughter, when it came out years ago and enjoyed it, though I don’t remember much about it except a sentence that went something like: “She had the kind of smile that told the world to go to hell.” I picked Pilgrim randomly from my bookshelf.

It’s about a guy, Pilgrim, who doesn’t want to live, but he comes back to life every time he tries to kill himself. He’s declared officially dead, but then he somehow starts breathing again. The story takes place in a mental hospital after his latest suicide attempt. Carl Jung is his doctor. A large portion of the novel consists of a journal written by Pilgrim and read by Jung who’s trying to figure this guy out.

I gave up on the novel about halfway through it (page 250 or so). Timothy Findley’s writing is finely-crafted, and the story is interesting. But I had ten years of interesting as an undergrad and graduate student. After a while, interesting just doesn’t cut it. I was also bored by the company of Findley’s writing. I can understand why he’s so popular with academics; his writing is very proper and polite and ripe for analysis. After 250 pages of that and not much happening, I couldn’t take it anymore.

What books have you had to give up on?