My pick for the Short Stories genre was ‘All That Man Is’ By David Szalay.
All of the stories are set in various countries in Europe which made it quite a bit more interesting than I was anticipating.
The short stories made for good holiday reading as I could pick it up and read a story at a time without loosing the thread of the story that I perhaps would have lost reading a standard fiction. I was also surprised at how well you got to know the main characters of each story in such a short time. The only downside was that with a few of the stories I would’ve liked to know more about what happened next instead of being left to guess what happened.
I have a confession to make: I didn’t finish the first book I chose for my Book Bingo Challenge. This is rather embarrassing, because Book Bingo was my idea to start with; also, it was a book I was so sure I wanted to read.
The book in question was my choice for the tricky ‘no genre label’ square of our bingo board: Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson. I’d thought I’d get that square out of the way early. A lack of genre label on a library book usually denotes a book that defies easy catagorisation – contemporary fiction, for example. Something a bit out of the ordinary.
Shylock is My Name is part of a new series of fiction by different authors, called Hogarth Shakespeare. In each book, the author takes a Shakespeare play and transposes it to modern life. Earlier this year I read Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler – in her version of The Taming of the Shrew, Kate is a kindergarten teacher talked into helping her father’s lab assistant get his Green Card. I’ve also read Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time – this book turns Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tales into the story of a wealthy London businessman who abandons his baby daughter in a re-imagined New Orleans.
I loved both Vinegar Girl and The Gap of Time. In fact, I’m a big fan of pretty much any sort of revamped Shakespeare – The Candle Wasters‘ high school webseries of Much Ado About Nothing, the Ugly Shakespeare theatre group, The Leonardo Di Caprio version of Romeo + Juliet, that one episode of Doctor Who with the witch-aliens… you get the picture. So, you can see why I was expecting Shylock is My Name to be right up my alley.
But I just… wasn’t feeling it. It took me all evening to wade through the first chapter, and I still wasn’t 100% sure what was happening.
How do you pull the plug on a book? I left it until just before it was due back at the library, and concluded that if I’d only picked it up once in the three weeks I’d had it, it probably wasn’t worth renewing. So back to the library it went; hopefully on to someone who’ll appreciate it more. Who knows; maybe I’ll try it again in six months and have a totally different experience!
Have you ever given up on a book you thought you’d enjoy reading? Tell us about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.