The Sunday Salon – Reading to a Deadline

tssbadge1I’m in the middle of a few books, as always, but one book is having to take preference over the others because it’s a library book, due back next Tuesday and I won’t be able to renew it. Well, I could take it back late and pay an overdue fine, but I hate to do that.

The book is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I wrote a bit about this book in yesterday’s post on Library Loot, where I said that after a few pages I nearly gave up on it because of the graphic descriptions of burning skin and flesh, but that it had got better when the unnamed narrator met Marianne Engel, a wild and compelling sculptress of gargoyles and she starts to tell him tales of the time when they were once lovers in medieval Germany.

The book alternates between recounting their present day life and Marianne Engel’s stories of their past life. The good things I do like about this book are the many references to Dante’s Inferno, which I still haven’t read, the religious references and what life was like in medieval Germany.

gargoyleBut there are annoying things about the book that maybe wouldn’t be so annoying if I could read it more slowly. This is a book with stories within stories – the stories Marianne Engel tells are good, but there are too many of them. When she says “Would you like to hear a story?” I think no, not another one. If I was able to take more time I’d put the book down after reading one of these before going on with the book. As I don’t have that time I find myself reading impatiently, wanting to get on with the main story. For another thing I don’t like reading lots of lists of things – the list of food Marianne brings him to eat for example made me slide my eyes over the page – in the middle of this list the narrator even inserts this in brackets “(just checking to see if you’re still reading)”.  I was  – just.

The pages are suitably black-edged. It looks charred as though it had been burned and because I’m the first person to read the book they’re still stuck together and I have to gently prise them open. They make a crackling noise and slow down my reading – not good for reading to a deadline.

I think the main problems though are that I normally read several books at a time moving from one to the other – it’s a bit like watching different programmes on TV – in several installments. I’m not used to reading only one book. And of course, that terrible feeling of time running out is reminding me of revising for  exams, or of having to finish a report for work. It does really take the enjoyment element away from reading until it starts to feel like a chore.

7 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – Reading to a Deadline

  1. Margaret, can you not renew your library books online. I do it all the time , as I live a few miles from the library.
    Regarding your book —- I must admit I don’t enjoy trawling through lists , if the author has queried whether you are still awake, perhaps they know that part is boring!


    • Mog, yes I can normally renew books online, but this book is restricted to a one week loan, because it is “A Top Ten Best Seller” and cannot be renewed. There were quite a few books in this category and I thought carefully whether I really wanted to borrow it – it’s got 499 pages! I will finish it – right now I’m up to page 397 and I’m aiming to finish it either this afternoon or tomorrow morning. It’s raining here now so I have an excuse not to do any gardening so am free to read.


  2. Rushing through a book because of a deadline does take the enjoyment out of reading. At least you’re almost finished with it. Are you going to try to check it out at a later time when it’s not a top ten so you can enjoy it better? I just checked out The Story of Edgar Sawtelle from the library. I can’t renew it but so many people want it, but at least I have three weeks to read it. Hopefully, I’ll finish it. Have a good week!


  3. I have been rushing through my books lately, because I have been lent so many books by other people and I want to return them and read my own. I have The Gargoyle and I am looking forward to reading it.


  4. When she says “Would you like to hear a story?” I think no, not another one.

    That made me laugh!!

    I read this book last year and very much enjoyed it, but it’s not really a book to rush through. When you have a deadline to meet it can take the enjoyment out of it.

    I’m always impressed by people who can juggle more than two books at a time. I tend to have a fiction book and a non-fiction book on the go, any more than that and I lose track of what’s going on and when I go to write the review I get myself into trouble!


  5. I dislike reading against a deadline as well. It feels the same way eating feels when I’m on a diet: I’m just eating to get nutrition, and in the case of the book, I’m just reading to get it read! This is particularly annoying if the book is really good, because I feel like I can’t just relax and enjoy it.


  6. The last “story within a story within a story” book I read was Orhan Pamuk’s “The Black Book”, which ended up bothering me precisely because of the stories-within-stories-within-stories… That’s not the only reason why I didn’t like the book very much, but it’s good to know that this is “The Gargoyle”‘s format.


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