I struggle to finish novels. I start reading them, begin to lose interest, get bored and then just abandon them fifty pages in. I’ve just abandoned ‘Black Swan’, the story of a young boy in a South African township. It just isn’t working for me. I also tried to start James Michener’s novel about Afghanistan last night but, for whatever reason, it isn’t a subject I want to read about right now. I abandoned it after five pages.
Now I’m on ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, a bird’s book. I absolutely hated Bridget Jones’ Diary. I found it clichéd and shockingly predictable. But I am going to give this book a chance because the central character is in her thirties (forty in men’s years) and is embarking upon her travels carrying bags of damage. The first pages read very well. But after page twenty five all the well-thought out, introspective writing is replaced by clichéd, main-stream, pretentious women’s dross. I am so annoyed, to be honest, that I am going to read on. I reckon writing a successful contemporary novel - one that sells millions - isn’t so much about the quality of your writing these days, as just finding a subject that touches a collective nerve at exactly the right collective moment. I can totally see how women in their late twenties and early thirties would lap this novel up, in the same way as Nick Hornby’s books appealed to me and blokes of a certain age, a few years back, but it is still annoying just the same. I am going to persevere though. Maybe it will even inspire somebody to write a blokes’ version of her tale. Maybe: ‘Drink, Travel, Shag’, or something along those lines.