Tonight is my book club meeting, and I haven't read the book. I've skimmed it, but I haven't read it. That's rare for me. I have this sort of ethical belief that if you join a book club, you make a commitment to read the book. You owe it to your fellow members.
The book – really it's two novellas – is by Nathanael West. It's Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust. I've only skimmed Miss Lonelyhearts and haven't even looked at The Day of the Locust.
This is the second book club book that I've deliberately not read (the first was Auto da Fé by Elias Canetti, and that was a few years ago). Why did I decide not to read this book now? Because it – like Auto da Fé – is unrelentingly grim, with unsympathetic characters who have few redeeming qualities. It's filled with misery, squalor and little, if any, hope.
And I just don't need that right now. I want happy, happy, happy! Or if not happy, then at least something with some hope, some sign that things might turn out well, could possibly turn out well.
That's the bonus with mysteries – what I curl up with when I don't want to think, or at least only want to think on a certain level. Sure, people die – at least usually – but the detective, in the end, figures out what's happened and all is well with the world once again. Crimes will be committed, another murder will happen, but a detective will come along and solve the case and things will be righted. That's the appeal of crime fiction. Things always work out. The case is always solved.
I love to read books (much more than just mysteries) and am always on the lookout for good books, books that I can totally lose myself in. They're hard to find. There are many books I've read over the years that I've enjoyed, some that I absolutely love. My apartment is filled with books, as you can see from the pictures below – they're on shelves, in cupboards, over doors, everywhere!
But if I'm going to read any type of fiction, I want something other than unremitting bleakness. I have enough bleakness in my life right now, thank you very much. I don't need it in my fiction.
P.S. If anyone has any good book suggestions, I'm always happy to hear them, so please let me know in your comments. I'm going to be off for a couple of weeks soon, and I'm looking for some good reading! (Needless to say, nothing that's grim and nothing but grim!)