Monday, 14 July 2008

Call me lowbrow but...

A while ago there was a book giveaway on the Penguin Publisher's website. I entered my name and address but didn't receive an email saying I was going to get a free book so thought nothing more of it.

Today I received my free book.

I was naturally excited by a book-shaped parcel (I LOVE getting free books, love it!) but my heart fell when I checked out the blurb on the back cover. I'm blanking out the title and author's name to see if anyone can guess the title of the book from the blurb!

"The imaginative breadth and the intellectual depth of XXXXXXX makes it one of the greatest of XXXX's 'Etudes philosophiques'. With its central symbol of the magic piece of shagreen, it expresses the peculiarly XXXXian idea of the human will and dramatizes with startling urgency the choice between ruthless self-gratification and asceticism, between vice and virtue, between dissipation and restraint. The symbolism is powerful but not overpowering: shrewd psychology, superbly chiselled dialogue and the sheer energy of the descriptive passages - the gambling den, the orgy, the devastating finale - gives XXXXXXXX a compelling and forceful realism."

Now, call me lowbrow, but that description didn't make my fingers itch to turn the first page. In fact, the only thing my fingers did do was carry the book over to the bookshelf and put it away*.
I feel a bit ashamed though. Like someone just delivered an bespectacled orphan to my door and I shut it in a cupboard instead of giving it a hug.

Have you ever been given a book you've immediately abandoned to a lonely, unread life on a shelf?

*That's a tiny bit of lie. I did read up to the line, "This cry, ejaculated in a sharp and scolding voice, came from a small, pallid old man squatting in the shadow behind a barrier, who suddenly rose to his feet and displayed a very ignoble type of countenance"...and then put it on the bookshelf.

11 comments:

Tam said...

Jean Paul Sartre?? An utter guess and probably wrong...
I've bought a few of those Penguin classic box sets over the years and there are a few books I've resolutely refused to read; Portrait of an Artist, Out of Africa and A Clockwork Orange (although I did try the last one and it's the only book I have been revolted by, so much so I hid it on top of the wardrobe and gave it away at the first opportunity). There have been others I did read and loved; Cold Comfort Farm, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Thirty-nine Steps. It's hard to get over a dislike of a book, even your disinclination is based on nothing very much at all.

B said...

Not got a single clue what that is :)

My mum gave my hubby 'On Siberia' by Colin... Thurbron or something? He tried, bless him, but couldn't get very far. Then I tried and I think I got even less far. We feel so guilty.

Also, I might have flicked to see if the orgy was any good before giving up entirely ;)

Maddie Moon said...

Well, it's got an orgy and a gambling den going for it. Couldn't you just skip to those bits!

I've got shelves full of books that I feel I should read, but there's always something more entertaining and light-hearted jostling for top position.

One day, I tell myself, I will get around to reading all those worthy books.

Lucy Diamond said...

Oh Gawd... I'd have shelved it too. And what's a shagreen when it's at home?
Bummer. How disappointing!

HelenMH said...

If being lowbrow means not having to read books that make you want to eat your own head - then I'm with you.

Kate.Kingsley said...

Oooh, I cheated and googled a bit of the blurb to see what it was.

And I wouldn't want to read it either ~ the title alone put me off!!

(clue to non-googling non-cheats: It's got the word "ass" in the title, which may or may not be related to the "orgy" bit ;-) )

Paige said...

That just flew right over my head!

KAREN said...

I'm afraid I've got a shelf full of books like that! I keep debating whether I should just get rid of them as they make me feel a bit guilty :o)

Sarah*G* said...

oh that sounds just a wonderful book to read! then again....maybe not. i prefer books that i don't have to read in conjunction with a dictionary!!

Jumbly Girl said...

I have this book! I haven't read it either :0) Shame as actually it's great idea, but just too laboriously told. I could imagine it as a snappy short story - maybe an updated version is needed (will add it to list of many things I would like to write)

Leigh said...

Not chick-lit then? ;-)

No idea who it is, really haven't read that kind of stuff since I was an angsty teen. Sounds way too pretentious for me now. Pray tell.

The closest I've ever got to filing a book straight away was with The London Orbital: an account of a walk around the M25 which, according to reviews, did not get going until page 64. Pages 1-63 were so badly written (multiple three/four-word sentences), that, despite having been informed that to complete the read would be well worth it, I gave up.