A Dance To The Music Of Boredom
Two words: Help me!
I’m in the weeds of boredom. And no matter how bad I want to stop, I must continue.
This was my fear: a 3,000 page book that isn’t interesting. In fact, it’s extremely tedious. When I discussed last month the first of twelve books in the massive novel that is A Dance To The Music of Time, I mentioned that I felt like Anthony Powell was doing a lot of “setting up” the story. Well, book two, A Buyer’s Market, continued that trend. Even moreso.
In fact, the second book in this series–A Buyer’s Market–may be the most boring book I’ve ever read. I’m not kidding. A Buyer’s Market isn’t boring in a Virginia Woolf kind of way. Everything makes sense.
But, for a reason I’m sure will show itself at some point in this book, Powell writes about the most mundane, seemingly pointless topics from the point of view of his narrator, Jenkins. It’s like the most boring reality show ever, but in book form.
For example, here’s a passage that gives you an idea of what Jenkins talks and thinks about during 90% of the book. In this passage, he thinks his foot has brushed against the foot of his love interest, Barbara:
I thought I could feel her foot against mine; but, a moment later, found the shoe in question to belong to Miss Manasch, who immediately removed her own foot; whether because aware of a pressure that had certainly been quite involuntary, if, indeed, it had taken place at all, or merely by chance, I was unable to tell.
Anthony Powell says in 50 words what most authors can say in about 10 words. Not only that, but I don’t think Powell ever heard the mantra of many a writer: “Show, don’t tell.” He leaves nothing to the imagination.
The novel’s style reminds me of sitting between two elderly 90-year-olds who talk for ten minutes about things like leaves, ants, and the appropriate size of a styrofoam cup.
For what it’s worth, A Buyers Market is a book about socialite parties. The book is set in the high society of post World War 1 England. I would say that 95% of the story–if you can really call this a story–takes place at some type of social party. We revisit Jenkins’ friend Stringham. The awkward Widmerpool apparently gets his groove on with a woman of “questionable morals.” Jenkins is just kind of there checking it all out.
Gosh, just writing about this book is boring me to death. Here’s hoping book 3–The Acceptance World–gets much better, because the thought of reading 10 more of these books fills me with dread.
A Dance To The Music of Time is just a dance to the music of boredom at this point.
Tell me it gets better!