Thursday, May 1, 2008

Voice of Dissent: The Hours

By Heather F.

Every year there is that book. You know. ‘That’ book, the one everyone and their dentist and your cousins’ sisters’ niece is reading and you just have to (have to!) read it as well. I am not usually one who likes to be left out of anything (a gross understatement), so the year The Hours by Michael Cunningham was ‘that’ book, I read it too.

I read it pretty quickly. It is not that hard of a read. And then I sat back and watched all of my reading groups cheer and proclaim to the heavens what an excellent book it was. And I shook my poor, confused head. Did we read the same book? Did I miss something? What was so great about that book?

Everyone talked of how well written it was. I found it to be stilted and pretentious. I thought it lacked style and felt the language was too clipped and abrupt.

Everyone talked of how well Cunningham wrote in the voice of a woman. I found it to be contrived and pompous.

Everyone talked of how well Cunningham captured Virginia Woolf’s voice. Albeit I’ve only read one book by Woolf, but I found the comparison to be lacking. I just could not see Woolf’s genius shining out at me through Cunningham’s words.

I am a firm believer that one can read a book at the wrong time in life and that the mood, maturity and disposition of said reader can affect their reaction to a book. Perhaps the timing was all wrong. Perhaps it was overly hyped. It wouldn’t be the first time, or the last, that a book was recommended to me by many, many people and I was the lone voice of dissent. Possibly I was too immature a reader to read The Hours when I did. I was in my early twenties.

Who knows? Now that I am older and hopefully wiser, I might enjoy it. There is only one problem. The mere thought of picking it up for a reread makes me cringe.


raidergirl3 said...

amen, sister.

Bookfool said...

I've been putting off reading The Hours for a long, long time. Wonder if that will help?