Books That Don’t Age Well

Some books just don’t age well for me. After finishing my re-reading of Tony Eprile’s The Persistence of Memory on Tuesday, a book I enjoy despite the way in which it challenges me as a reader, I picked up Erik Tarloff’s The Man Who Wrote the Book, a novel I’d first read back in 2000. Back then, I remember thinking that the book was quite good. But as I flipped through the opening pages of it on the train-ride home on Tuesday evening, I couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that it sucked harder than a fluffer at the filming of the World’s Biggest Gangbang. Every sentence reeked of the sort of heavy-handed cleverness that I’ve come to disdain in the things that I read. I couldn’t, for the life of me, recall what I’d once found so endearing about the book.

And what frightened me more was when I considered that this was the sort of thing I used to set out to write, the sort of thing that I still sometimes end up producing if I’m not careful.

My goal in picking this book up again had been a change of pace. Having just finished reading back-to-back Pulitzer Prize winners (Middlesex and Empire Falls), followed by a challenging book like The Persistence of Memory, I wanted to read something light and inconsequential. And since I can’t really afford to be buying any new books right now, I looked to my bookshelves for salvation. That The Man Who Wrote the Book is what I came up with says something to me, but I’m not sure what.

In the end, I’ve decided to forgo the pursuit of something light for the moment and continue on my worldwind tour of Pulitzer Prize winners. My next re-read will be Michael Chabon’s The Adventure of Kavalier and Clay, something I’ve been meaning to pick up again since the day I put it down the first time. So much for inconsequential, huh?