Books aren’t monogamous creatures, but maybe they should be. I have the bad habit of starting multiple books at once, only to finish not a single one.
Take Nightwood for example. I still vividly remember picking it up in the back of a used bookstore in Manasquan, NJ. That same day, I also bought What Is To Be Done?, which had been sitting on a shelf to the right of Barnes’ work. The store was quiet, with only about two other people in the store. The front of the shop carried all of the modern works, and the back had the classic cheapies that had been loved a little too hard.
I started Nightwood a good 10 years ago. Every few years, I would pick it up, read the first few pages, and then put it back down. I don’t think I ever got past page five. But Nightwood was always there, sitting on my shelf, taunting me every time I needed to find a new book to read.
Over the summer, I started reading it again and stopped, 25 pages short of the ending. After sitting on page 143 for three months, I just finished the book last night. During that time, I’d already finished three other books and as I cracked open a new tome, I decided, “Enough is enough, I need to finish this once and for all!”
There are just some books that become this monumental challenge. There’s nothing wrong with the writing, the story line is interesting, you even like the characters and plot development, but you just cannot finish it. But I also can’t just not finish a book either. I made this commitment, I have to see it through to the end. How do you think I read the Twilight series? (Yes, I just admitted that. And poor Djuna Barnes, I finished Stephanie Meyers’ “writing” before Nightwood. Sorry, Djuna.)
Of course, the end of the book always has the best quotes, too. Like,
That’s what makes most people so passionate and bright, because they want to love and be loved.
So, after a 10 year challenge, Nightwood is finally and firmly under my reading belt. Now, to finish off the other three books that I’ve been working on…