The other day I discussed my habit of reading more books than I can chew, and touched on why it becomes, for me, a digestive problem as well. I avoided mention of my other, recent habit: fast-forwarding.
I haven’t been ‘skimming’ though, so you may kindly lower your weapons; I don’t believe for a second skimming texts allows for any but the most elliptical, Catchphrase!-esque retention of information. Or so my college days suggest, being only seven months behind me as they are, and also because if you’re you’re skimming this text you’ve likely just glosssed over an error or two slyly intentioned to prove my point, de facto.
No, I t’will not skim. What I do instead is listen to audiobooks at between 1.5x and 3x the recorded speed depending on how miserable the experience. Equally bad dog! behaviour, but I hope to win you over after all, or at least gain your accepting if disapproving closed-eye-nod acknowledgement. You see, I only do this for novels I would otherwise have given up on if not for this option. If I had listened to rather than read The Famished Road, New Tab, or Mountains of the Moon, I would have finished each and known to the last line, by and from the last line, my overboard! was well reasoned.
When do you know a “don’t like” will become a “won’t like”? For me, it’s as soon as an annoyance, cheapness, laziness, pretension, or inexcusable repetition pollinates throughout, and not just the once, twice. Or if it bores the fuck out of me.
One’s fuck is kind of like one’s pride: no one can take it from you. So I say, fuck those who try, or don’t have the sense to realize when they’re doing it. To bore someone is to send them back to work just as they’ve arrived home from their shift, ready for a third night in a row of guilt/exhaustion spaghetti, their Basset Hound’s sleepy eyes asking what work/purpose/Stockholm Syndrome is like and the man or woman’s answer the silent surfing of their hand on the loose folds of the dog’s scalp, which says somehow enough.
Yes, I can still understand books at 3x. Or, can and have every book for which I’ve lowered myself so. Remember, I instruct myself: you don’t have to make an effort to enjoy; it’s the book’s job, and you just have to be open to enjoyment. We seek out the stories which interest us, so if those stories fail to please, impress or engage even when we’re all aboard for an alien invasion in Lagos, and have been from the first, or for the chronicle of a morally ambivalent young girl in World War II Germany as narrated by Death himself, the story must be failing all the more. (Dog not fed? Just kicked off your shoes? Too bad! Slurp that dinner cold from the container still stained by your lunch on the drive back to the office, Jack!)
Hate is a fantastic motivator, and, as it turns out, bears a variety of fruits. To finish something you hate is to shield against didn’t-give-it-a-chance‘s or wanted-to-dislike-it‘s if you did give such and didn’t want such. I did like the closing line, “I am haunted by humans,” even if it’s the only one I remember, care to, and acknowledge may be the case only because it’s the last one in the book. No, it is a good line, I think. Still.
I bought Catch-22 at the start of this month and I am loathe to listen to it, but less so while I do the dishes, shave, drive, and perform other domestic rituals which allow for the accompaniment of a hands-and-eyes-free read. Plus, listening to the end of a book you hate, are deathly bored by, and which you wouldn’t have read to the end, affords one the sensation of being two versions of one’s self, two dimensional branches in an infinitely limbed, and leafed, tree. The Richard who ends up having sex on the beach, under the stars, with Francoise, and one of the many, many, many Richards who don’t. The you who refuses to waste time on what doesn’t make you happy, what doesn’t make those five brutally quick hours of relaxation after work worth working for, and the you who wastes it anyway, ambivalent on whether you’re right or wrong to, and finds you’re both. Maybe you’re wrong, after all, or just not all right? Even if Catch-22 sucks, and fuck it, it’s your fuck. Yours.
Even if all the while you find yourself asking, “why can’t everything be Fourth of July Creek?” Because then, nothing would be.
Pineapplle! The word is pineapplle.