Saturday, April 10, 2010

Don’t Cry for Me Argentina

I am about to give you some advice: sometimes you just have to let go. I’m talking reading advice here. We’ve all been there. We’ve all invested time, effort and sometimes money into a read. And then you realize that it just isn’t working for you.

Okay, sometimes a separation will work. You decide to not even look at the cover for a week or two. Just to try to get by. Maybe you might even decide it would be alright to read something else. After all there were no commitments. It was probably going to be only a temporary attachment anyway. Everyone knew that right at the start. But now here you are walking up and down the stacks looking for Mr./Ms. Good Read. And it wouldn’t be so bad except you know you’ve already started something else and that it’s waiting at home. For you. All alone. You’re already committed, sort of, right? It’s just all so tawdry. You feel so cheap. Maybe if you had just tried a little harder. Maybe if you had just spent a little more time. Just a few more pages.

Stop. We’ve all been there. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could just stop. Where I could just close the covers and say “enough” long before I got to the final sentence. I will confess that I got to this point by increments. I started by saying things like, “I’ll give you 100 pages. If you don’t produce by then, forget it”. Easy words to say, maybe even cruel words. But you have to be strong. And here is the most terrible part: it worked for me. And we all know it’s additionally hard when the book you’re about to dump was recommended to you by someone you trust. A friend. A literary soul-mate. A person whose tastes and intellect you respect and enjoy. And now here you are skulking around the stacks looking to end it. Your friendship will probably survive. But the book?

It’s okay gentle reader. You gave it a shot. Remember you were the one who took the book down from the stacks and brought it home. And it wasn’t just the pretty cover-art that led you down the primrose path. You read the cover-notes. You saw the endorsements by the other authors. You might have also down a background check and read the New York Times Review of Books or an Amazon review or even, for those serious entanglements, a Kirkus Review. It’s not like you were frivolous. The truth is that this read just didn’t meet your expectations. You suddenly realized that it’s all you and no book. This was supposed to be an equal relationship and one half just isn’t forthcoming. It’s that simple. So don’t cry for me Argentina, don’t carry a torch, don’t tattoo the title over your heart or scribble it down your sleeve. Just close the covers, put the book in your tote and bring it back to the library. It’s okay. I’m sure it will be just perfect for someone else.

See you at the Library,

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