Here’s a problem I face when I’m reviewing or offering my opinion on famous, well-received novels.
I have to separate my subjective opinion from a much wider objective opinion. For example, I recently wrote about how much I really disliked Possession. I’ve called the novel “dull,” “a slog,” and all sorts of other negative things. The same goes for other novels at the bottom of my highly subjective and basically meaningless rankings, like Mrs. Dalloway, A Dance To The Music of Time, and The Sound and the Fury.
I have to recognize that though I dislike, and even greatly dislike, these novels, many literature critics who know much more than me believe these are some of the best novels ever written. Read more
Possession has left me speechless. But I’ll still write 296 words for this post, because I like you guys so much.
Or maybe I should say “unable to write”—or whatever the synonym for that is. I feel like this novel has sucked all the life out of my creative bones. It’s a literary Ambien that leaves me in a daze.
I want to finish it badly so I can move on to the next novel and cleanse my bookish palette, yet moving forward is so painful and there are so many other more worthwhile things I could be doing—like trimming my sideburns or spending two hours on the phone with AT&T’s customer service. Read more
So here I sit, with nearly two weeks behind me since finishing A Dance To The Music Of Time—a novel that took up about half of my reading time in 2012.
I now have all four appropriately named “movements” (volumes) of the novel, each containing 3 books, totaling 12 novels and more than 3,500 pages…and I don’t know what to do with them.
More than likely, I’ll end up putting these books on my bookshelf—they’re big enough to have their own wing. They will be a memorial to the reading hell I suffered in 2012.
But, should I change my mind and decide to exorcise the demons of A Dance, I thought I’d come up with a few other ideas for the books.
Feel free to apply some of these to any large novel you hate, like Infinite Jest, Gone With The Wind, Moby Dick etc.
How else could these four Anthony Powell books be used?
“To dance is to live.” – Famous dancer person
Dancing represents life, vitality, happiness, even sexuality.
A good dancer is never more alive than when she dances—heart thumping quickly, blood churning through her veins, sweat pouring profusely from her pores.
All of these are good things. They’re happy and festive and joyful. They’re interesting and intriguing. I like them. You like them. We all like them together.
They’re everything A Dance To The Music Of Time is not.
I didn’t get this post in before November ended–that being my monthly post about A Dance To The Music Of Time–because I’m just worn down with this novel.
I’ve ran a marathon before, and it wasn’t nearly as painful as reading the entirety of this 3,500 page novel. This thing is like a literary gouge to my cornea. It physically pains me to read this novel right now.
I’m on the home stretch of the book, and even though I’m seriously ready to quit on it, I can get through one more (that would be book 12, Hearing Secret Harmonies, which obviously sounds riveting). One more. Just one more. I can crawl over the finish line if I have to.
I read Book 11, Temporary Kings, in November. And here are my well-developed and thoughtful insights on it:
It’s appropriate to review my 10th book in the A Dance To The Music Of Time series on the day before Halloween.
Because this novel will probably haunt me the rest of my life. Not because A Dance is scary, but because I’ll never get back the countless hours I’ve spent reading this book.
I’ve tried. I’ve really tried.
I just finished book 9 of 12 (The Military Philosophers) in this behemoth series of novels that Anthony Powell created as a way to torture readers. Feel free to relive my torture by reading my prior posts about the book during 2012–a year I proclaimed as “The Year of the Dance.”
12 books. 12 months. It all made so much sense in January. Now, I just feel like I should get some kind of award from Time Magazine for reading through this beast. Has anyone else done it? Who actually reads this thing?
To summarize my emotions about A Dance, I put together the five different responses I have while trying to navigate my way through this novel.
The great philosopher Edwin Starr once famously said, “War, hunh, good God y’all, what is it good for? Hunh! Absolutely nothing!”
I don’t know if Edwin Starr ever read A Dance To The Music Of Time (I’m kind of doubting that). But, on the minuscule chance he did, it’s possible that book 8 (The Soldier’s Art) of this behemoth novel inspired him.
In book 8, bombs drop and people die. That’s the best way I can sum it up.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ve reached a turning point in what, to this point, has been the most tedious literary experience of my life.
The Valley of the Bones, Book 7 of The Dance To The Music Of Time (read my prior posts about each book in the series), was actually not a bad book. In fact, it was somewhat good. I even laughed! Can you believe it?
Throughout my self-declared “Year of the Dance,” I’ve hammered this novel. But, finally, some light.
Today, I celebrate.
Because, today, I am halfway finished with A Dance To The Music Of Time, perhaps the most lengthy and tedious piece of literature I have ever read. That means “The Year of The Dance” is 50% complete.
So what’s it like to read A Dance To The Music Of Time? The following paragraph, taken from Book 6, The Kindly Ones, will give you an idea: