Friday, January 29, 2010
Marie, the Boston Bibliophile started this very useful meme so we can blog about books that for whatever reason just don't work. This time I had two that hit the 'Let it Go" Pile. The first was "The Hemingses of Monticello" by Annette Gordon Reed.
I've been working on this one for almost three weeks. It is ponderous, tedious, learned, well-researched, and I've certainly learned a lot. It really isn't for any specific challenge, although I thought it would be good background material for my participation in the US Presidents challenge. It is not a bad book, it won the National Book Award. It's just a really slow, and very detailed (probably way too detailed) read.
I'm putting it aside for now. I've had it as an audio, and it's not working. I think it might work better in print, and will look for it. I'm just finding that I'm tiring of the author's constant speculation based on 'we really have no positive proof.' I seem to be hearing the same theories over and over, and after 4 discs that's enough. I realize that historians have to make assumptions. For that reason, I try to read non-fiction written only by well-vetted authors. I felt that winning a National Book Award was plenty of vetting, but I also feel let down.
This book is 31 discs in audio and 816 pages in print, so the investment of time is substantial. Let's hope a different format will remedy my indifference toward this one, because my brain is not ready to soak up 800 pages of repetition right now.
It smacked of overblown self-importance--the author seemed to be the only person in the US who knew corruption and was qualified to report on it. If it hadn't been his 2nd such work (he is the author of Ruthless: A Tell-All Book about Oprah Winfrey), I'd have had more inclination to pay attention. The writing was bombastic, snarky, overblown, and in need of good editing. After 50+ pages, I decided life is too short. If there's truly a scandal to be reported, then I'll wait til it's reported by legitimate and vettable journalists.