Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Stopping Reading “The Vanishers,” by Heidi Julavits

I kept hearing about Heidi Julavits. She was a founding editor of The Believer magazine. Her novels are praised for their originality. But the reviews of her first three novels never quite drew me in. So when I read about her new novel, “The Vanishers” (Doubleday, 2012), I thought that this time I would try to read it. It sounded intriguing: It features a young protagonist named Julie who is studying at an institute for psychics. Her powers are increasing, which the proprietor of the institute, Madame Ackermann, finds threatening; she casts a sort of spell on Julie. Julie struggles with this problem at the same time she is reliving her mother’s long-ago suicide and looking for answers. The psychic part isn’t really up my alley, but the character and story sounded compelling. I got a few pages into the book, and realized it felt like uphill work. My interest was flagging. I pushed through a little bit longer. I got to about page 40; I am not sure which page exactly, because I kept falling asleep and losing my place. The next day I thought maybe I had just been too tired to read the night before, so I persisted a little longer. It didn’t work. Finally I gave up and gave in to my inclination to just stop reading it. Suddenly I felt liberated. Good, I didn’t have to read it! And just like that, it went onto the “return to the library” pile. A relief. I don’t mean to say it isn’t a good novel; the reviews I have read have been excellent. But for some reason it is not a novel I want to read, or at least I don’t want to read now. I long ago decided that I didn’t have to have a reason to stop reading a book I wasn’t enjoying; not enjoying it was enough of a reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter