"This is flippin' awful," I told the wife.
"Don't read it then," she said.
She was right, of course, and I'd already passed my fifty pages rule! Aforementioned book was swiftly consigned to the charity shop box. The book has a huge number of admirers who heap nothing but praise on it, but frankly ...
"Shame," I said, "I just fancied reading something about the Middle Ages."
She disappeared off into the other room and came back with a copy of The Spire by William Golding. "This is good," she said, "Same period, same cathedral I reckon."
I set off.
I think it's possible to measure (to some extent) a great piece of writing by how large it looms in your psyche. This book and the religious hubris of its main character seemed to take up residence in my dreams from the moment I started reading it. It is a book packed with metaphor, and although written in the third person, it is fully inhabited by the main character Jocelyn's mental landscape. He is a man obsessed by a vison and a charge, which he is convinced has been placed on him by God, to erect a huge spire atop an already existing cathedral. This building lacks the necessary foundations that might be considered sufficient for such a vast undertaking, and against the advice of Roger Mason (the master builder in charge of the project), wisdom and sanity, Jocelyn forces through what he believes to be God's will. He is a man who feels as if he's supported by an angel, yet at the same time is tormented by demons. The book, although written in linear time, has a nightmarish quality, and an out of sync feel about it - just as the main character's clarity of purpose is unbalanced by obsession.
Serious stuff, superb writing.
Nothing whatever to do with the above, although it does perhaps illustrate how important books are in our home. Earlier this week:
After supper my wife Judith was texting a friend. She asked me, "My mind's gone blank ... who did The Source?"
Casting my mind back, "Er, James Michener," I said.
She laughed, "No, THE SAUCE - the one we had for tea!"
"Lloyd Grossmann," I replied.