Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Daunting Deadline

Some weeks back, I took a trip home, and spent some time with a fellow I'd only met a few times before.  Upon parting, he offered the gift of a book, a rather thick tome called World Without End, by Ken Follett.  Having spent such sparse time with this particular gentleman in the decade since our first meeting, I had little grasp of his particular tastes in literature, and no idea if they would mesh with my own.  In fact, there were a few moments during our visit when I actually caused him to count to ten.  You see, my company had just gone through a trying contract negotiation, upon which I offered my thoughts on both the process and outcome.  Well, me being a union grunt, and him being the upper management type, seemed to disagree about a few aspects of the labor process.  I'll admit, I found his counting to ten rather amusing, and while I didn't consciously say anything I knew would lead to such a response, I will certainly be mindful I can do so during any future intercourse. 

Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and look forward to the next one, but as I accepted his copy of World Without End, he informed me it was a sequel to a book called The Pillars of the Earth, the best book he'd ever read.  This is when a gift becomes a burden.  When you have something you can't enjoy until you take several steps of your own first, costing you time, effort, and in this case, money to buy the first book.   But then, someone else saw my copy of World Without End and, with great fanfare, boasted how The Pillars of the Earth was the greatest book she'd ever read.  Perhaps the greatest book ever written.

Now it seemed I had no choice but to read both books.  For one thing, I had in my possession a gift, and it would be rude not to enjoy it as intended.  For another thing, I had, it seemed, for a good portion of my life, been missing out on the greatest thing literature has ever known.  To be presented with this information and further choose to ignore it would serve a great injustice, not only to myself, but to anyone I might enlighten on the joys of these two books in future endeavors. 

It befell me to seek a copy of The Pillars of the Earth.  I could certainly have purchased and downloaded it to one of numerous e-reading Apps on my iPad, but that seemed almost too easy.  And I'm cheap.  So it was off to the library only to find quite a backlog of people waiting to read The Pillars of the Earth.  I put my name on the list, third in queue and went on with my life.

After our trip to Savannah, a few weeks back, Mrs. Sarcasm and I were both interested in reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt.  Once again, we turned to the library.  It's been an enjoyable and fast read, but today my copy of The Pillars of the Earth became available and I went to pick it up.  I now feel the weight of its 973 pages, due back on September 11.  And it's such a popular book, they won't allow me to renew it.  Apparently there's even a television series based on it, now airing on Starz.

So I'm feeling daunted.  To read a thousand page book, in only two weeks would pose a challenge, but throw in another one with the same return date, add it to my increasingly busy work schedule, set aside time to write my own crap, and critique for my writing partners...

This is why they invented the word frak!


Ted Cross said...

Well, it is certainly not the greatest book written, but it IS very good. Despite its length, I blitzed through it quite fast, because it does keep you turning the pages. I really liked it, but it is not one of those re-read books that I truly love.

Jeanne said...


Erica Chapman said...

Wow it's 1000 pages! Yikes, I could see why you feel the pressure. If you can't get it done in 2 weeks, just check it out again. When you have more time.

I've heard the series on Starz is good. I have Starz, but haven't watched it yet.

Good luck ;o)

Matt said...

This is becoming even more of a challenge. After 80 some pages and what I thought were chapters I, II, III and so on, I then came to chapter 2.

Good grief!

I may take it to work. After all, isn't that what the auto pilot is for?

Travener said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Travener said...

Usually I shy away from long books..of fiction. But I just blew through both The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire, both of them 650-page monsters. So if a book's good enough, length doesn't have to be an insurmountable problem.

Though I still have never made it through War and Peace.

Amy Saia said...

Have fun : )

Okie said...

Good luck with that. In cases like that I often keep an eye out for a sale to buy the book, knowing there will likely be difficulties in my finishing it on the library's timetable.

That said, having the deadline can also be helpful. I bought Pillars probably a year ago and in spite of hearing great things, I just can't bring myself to crack the ~1000 page cover and dive into it, knowing that it will consume me and all my other reading time.

Still, I hope to at least start it before the end of the year. I don't have cable so the HBO special isn't a motivator for least not until it comes to DVD, by which time I hope to have the book(s) read.

Enjoy...and good luck.

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