Wednesday, February 07, 2007

More on Slow/Fast Reads

I'm happy to report that I did finally finish the Unending Book last night, and boy, it really was an unending book. It was like one of those movies that has false endings where you're sure it's over and then it keeps on going. It wasn't so much like a horror movie, where they think the bad guy is dead, and as they're relaxing and celebrating, he comes back again for a while. It was closer to the kind where there's the big, climactic scene where all the plot threads that really matter for the story are resolved and it just feels like this is a good place to end on a high note -- and then it goes on for another half hour to convince us that those threads really are resolved by introducing a random element for the characters to deal with that proves everything's okay. The hero and heroine faced their enemy together and came out okay, they were reunited with long-lost loved ones, there was the childbirth scene to then demonstrate how much they loved each other and to prove that they really were going to create a family -- which is where most books would end, but this one then went on for two more chapters and an epilogue, just in case you weren't really, really sure that things were going to be okay. Arrrgggghhhh! I love wrapping things up and getting a sense of what life post-crisis will be like, but you do have to eventually end the book.

I have a couple of amendments to the slow=bad/fast=good rule. I can tear through a book I'm hating in one sitting, mostly because I just want to get it over with, or possibly because I want to see if it will get any better (or see how bad it can get). There are books that hook me at the start, and then fall off later in the book. It also depends on what else is going on in my life. Anything read on an airplane will generally go quickly, no matter how good or bad it is, because there aren't a lot of ways to distract myself (though a book I'm not enjoying or not into will go a little slower than a really good book because I'll find myself reading the SkyMall catalog and mentally choosing the things I'd buy if I had money, doing the crossword in American Way, staring out the window, chatting with my seatmate, etc. before I force myself back to the book). In fact, if I know I'll be traveling during the time that I have an obligation book to read, I'll deliberately take the book I'm obligated to read but not crazy about with me on the plane so I'll be forced to plow through it quickly.

I can't think of a book I really loved that took me forever to read. It may have taken me a little while to get through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, but with that one, it took me some time to get into it. Then once I was into it, I really tore through it and will eventually have to reread it because I know I missed a lot of stuff near the end. I usually end up immediately re-reading the last five chapters of the Harry Potter books because I get so excited and flip through pages like crazy, so I miss a lot of stuff in all the excitement. Come to think of it, I'm that way in writing, too. I tear through the ending, and that's usually the first part I revise.

Another sign I'm not really into a book is if I catch myself flipping ahead to see what happens. I usually do that when a book follows multiple plot lines or characters, and if there's one plot line or character I'm really into while I don't care so much about the others. Then I'll flip ahead to read the part of the story that interests me. I may never even go back and read the rest unless that becomes crucial for following the story I care about. Mom's rule is that if she isn't really into a book within the first few chapters, she'll skip to the last chapter, and if it doesn't really intrigue her or if she doesn't like the ending, she'll know how the book ends and be able to put it down. If she's intrigued about how the book got to that point, she'll go back and read the whole thing.

In other news, tonight's that movie screening, and my practical circuit has now kicked in to do war with the stubborn circuit. The practical circuit has pointed out that going early enough to be sure of being one of the 75 people allowed in will end up meaning devoting seven hours to going to this one event. Meanwhile, I'm leaving town on Friday and have a ton of stuff to get done before I leave. I found out yesterday that I have to perform in class next Tuesday, so that means really learning a Handel aria with only today, tomorrow, Monday and early Tuesday to work on it and practice. I need to do laundry and figure out what to pack, as well as figuring out what to wear for the party. I need to get together some promo stuff to hand out at the convention. I also want to do a little house cleaning so that I don't come home to a mess (today's Oprah is apparently on dealing with clutter -- coincidence or not?). And, oh yeah, there's this book I'm supposed to be revising that's due March 1. The stubborn circuit is telling me that I will rule if I go and get into the screening, and hello, it's Horatio Hornblower! In person! And besides, I went to the effort to go get that pass, so it would be a shame not to even try to use it.

I'm afraid the practical circuit may win, mostly because when I imagine scenarios, I can feel my stress levels drop when I think about not going. I get at least one e-mail a week inviting me to one of these screenings, and while most of them aren't movies or celebrities who interest me, there's still a chance that something else will come along later when I have less going on. It would be one thing if I could leave the house around 6:30 for the 7:30 movie, but I'd have to leave around 4 to be sure of getting in, and with everything else I need to do, that seems excessive.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what happened!

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