August 24, 2012

Book Club: Where's The Point Where You Stop Reading?

One of the great things about McCovey Chronicles is that the comment threads almost never stay on the topic of baseball or the Giants. Most of the time the discussions break down into music, TV, movies, and other talk that isn't baseball. One of the favorite discussions there is on books.

The other day I talked about reading Denis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke" and about how I was going to stop reading this book. To my surprise I wasn't the only person there who has stopped reading a book before the end.

"Tree of Smoke" is a behemoth of a book (700 page paperback) that is about a Psy Ops CIA agents in Vietnam during the war. There are other characters as well who are all somehow connected to the Psy Ops. And the book's title is a reference to all their faith during the war.

To be fair to this book was crushed by my own expectations. I read about Psy Ops, CIA, Vietnam War and my radar went up. The book had my interest. I've always had a fascination with history, wars, and espionage. So I became exited to read this book.

300 pages in and I can't see what the actual plot is to this book? Now I fully admit I'm stupid and probably don't get the point of this book, but after 300 pages you'd think I would get the point by now. The book halfway through to me is just rambling nonsense.

Do I stop reading "Tree of Smoke" though? I'm halfway through a book I don't like but I'm torn if I should quit reading this book. Maybe I'll understand the grand point of this book if I continue reading? Maybe the book still has interesting sections that I haven't covered yet?

Where is the point though when you stop reading a book though? For me with "Tree of Smoke" the point where I had to just take a break from reading it was around page 350 when I became frustrated with what I perceived to be a lack of a plot.

What's your breaking point though? Do you stop reading when you can't find the point of a novel? Do you stop when you become frustrated with the language? (Faulkner or McCarthy books can be frustrating reads because of the language.) Have you read a book that you just didn't like and stopped reading it? Also what books did you stop reading and why?

1 comment:

  1. IMHO, Vietnam fiction begins & ends with Tim O'Brien.