Literary Blog Hop: November 11-14

Literary Blog Hop  For this week’s Literary Blog Hop, hosted by The Blue Bookcase, we’re asked to answer the question of what is the most difficult literary work you’ve ever read and what made it so difficult?

That honor belongs to this man, right here:

Nearly everything I’ve ever read by William Faulkner has confounded me. I was first introduced to him a college class called “Faulkner, O’Connor, and Morrison.”  We spent the semester reading and discussing the novels and stories of William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Toni Morrison.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get into Faulkner (those long, complicated and complex sentences!) but the class was a wonderful one because it sparked my interest in and love of all things O’Connor. 
While it isn’t the most difficult literary work I’ve ever read, the book I just finished was fairly challenging.  I had a tough time with If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, which is the 2002 Booker Prize nominated debut novel by Jon McGregor.
At first I found this to be an oddly compelling book, but midway through it just felt like a chore. McGregor’s writing is gorgeous and poetic, and the style a very unconventional one.  The absence of quotation marks in the dialogue didn’t bother me but the lack of character names did.  I don’t like novels where I feel like I need a spreadsheet to keep track of events and characters, but that’s what I felt like this required of me as a reader.
The characters are all residents of a small street in England and only identified as “the young girl from number nineteen, the sister of the twins” or “in the kitchen of number seventeen the young man with the creased and sweaty white shirt puts a kettle on to boil.” There are just too many characters for my addled brain to keep straight without any names and after awhile this became tedious.  Maybe this effect would have worked better in a short story, or perhaps a novella. 
The Literary Blog Hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase and “is open to blogs that primarily feature book reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion. If your blog does not fit this description, it may be removed from the Linky List.
How do I know if my blog qualifies as “literary”? Literature has many definitions, but for our purposes your blog qualifies as “literary” if it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure. YA literature may fit into this category, but if your blog focuses primarily on non-literary YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal romance, or chick lit, you may prefer to join the blog hop at Crazy-for-books that is open to book blogs of all genres.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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12 thoughts on “Literary Blog Hop: November 11-14

  1. kinnareads

    I started reading Faulkner after I came across an article in which Gabriel Garcia Marquez stated that he loved the works of Faulkner. I read Absalom!Absalom! and it was a bit difficult. I enjoyed it though. Thanks for mentioning If No One Speaks of Remarkable Things. Sounds really interesting. Wonderful response.

  2. Roof Beam Reader

    Faulkner can be tough, but some of it is pretty accessible, and all of it is interesting! Have you tried Light in August? That was by far my favorite. As I Lay Dying was pretty awesome too. The Sound and the Fury drove me nuts, though.

  3. JoAnn

    I forgot about Faulkner… he does require a lot of effort! I really liked As I Lay Dying though. I read If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things over a weekend a few years ago. Reading in just a couple sittings helped, I think.. Have been meaning to try McGregor’s newer book (can’t think of the name).

  4. leeswammes

    The John McGregor book sounds interesting, but I have a problem keeping track of characters too, when there are too many. I sometimes write down a list of them (with some important things about them) every time I encounter a new character.

    With this book, that would mean very long character descriptions and I’m not sure it would help.

  5. Jillian

    I haven’t read much O’Connor yet (just short stories), but I’m fascinated by her too!

    I do love Faulkner.

    The title If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is so poetic. I haven’t read it yet…

    🙂

  6. IngridLola

    It seems like books heavy with stream-of-consciousness, especially Faulkner, Joyce, and Woolf are the most prevalent authors I’ve seen people talk about as difficult this week. Definitely some difficult authors.
    Thanks for participating in our Hop this week!

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