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:
If A Dance To The Music Of Time was a dinner, it would be a plain hamburger with no cheese, no ketchup, no mustard–nothing–with a couple of cardboardish rice cakes meant to substitute for delicious, crispy, salty french fries.
All of this would sit on a plain, white plate with a white napkin and white plastic utensils. Next to the plate, a lukewarm glass of water would sit. No lemon. No ice. No straw.
When you finished that meal, you would say, “I just ate the most boring meal in the history of meals.” That’s what you would say. And you would be right. But what if that meal was a series of books?
Why would you eat a series of books? You wouldn’t. But you might read a series of books, and these books might bore you, not unlike that awful hamburger and rice cake combination.
All of that is a horrible lead-in to say I’m approaching the halfway point in the “Year of The Dance”–which is my year-long read through the 3,000+ page behemoth known as A Dance To The Music Of Time by Anthony Powell–one of the novels on the Time list.
Maybe A Dance To The Music Of Time has finally worn me down. It’s beaten me up, bruised me, tossed me around like a Cabbage Patch Kid without a leg. Because, somehow, I’m willing to say the fourth book in the series, At Lady Molly’s, wasn’t that bad.
It’s not that anything changed with Anthony Powell’s style. It’s not that, all of the sudden, the plot took off and became action-packed and filled with suspense.
I still would say A Dance To The Music Of Time might be compared to the most boring reality show ever, a show in which the main characters sit around and talk about history and go to social parties to discuss the merits of Communism over a glassy of sherry.
All of that is still the same. I think the characters are just finally starting to grow on me. After nearly 1,000 pages of reading, I would hope a few of these characters would begin to seem interesting. And they have.