Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why Did I Bring "Mudwoman" Home from the Library?

I saw a review of Joyce Carol Oates' new novel, "Mudwoman," thought it looked intriguing, requested it from the library, was notified it was in and waiting for me, checked it out and took it home, and put it on my pile of "to read" books. When I took it off the pile to start reading it, I suddenly wondered WHY I had brought it home. Although I admire Oates, I pretty much stopped reading her many years ago, with very occasional exceptions. In general, her work is too dark and too sensational for my taste. Yet each time a new novel comes out, I wonder if this time I will enjoy it, and shouldn't miss it. So, as if enacting a ritual, I slmost always read the review and track down the book. Then I flip through it and decide that no, in fact, once again, I am NOT going to read it. And once again, I take the book back to the library unread. And so it is with "Mudwoman." Yes, I am drawn in by the premise of a woman Ivy League college president with a lurid childhood lurking in the background, threatening to overtake her and change her life again. The prominent woman, the secret lover, the sensational back story...all call out to me, but when it comes to it, I just don't want to actually read the novel. So, yes, once again, the Oates novel is sitting on my "to return to the library unread" pile.

As a coda to the above: It may seem strange that I occasionally write here about books that I DON'T read. But I believe that such books are part of one's reading life: the "maybe-I-will, but, then again, after all, I guess I won't" books.

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