Friday, October 13, 2006

What a Slog

You can't get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. -- C. S. Lewis

I used to relate to those words. At present, however, I'm finding it a bit of a chore trying to get through The Once and Future King by T.H. White, a 639-page chunkster.

Oh, yeah! Now, I remember why I avoid fat books! What I've realized, as I'm reading, is that I've become a victim of the modern impatience. I want plot and I want it now. I find it difficult to plow through detail that I recall once eating up like my youngest son now does. I enjoyed reading the scene in which Wart and Merlyn became fish, for example, but when Wart was turned into a merlin for educational purposes and then an ant, an owl and then a goose I felt like it was a lot of the "same song, different tune". However, I do love the writing and I'm going to stick it out.

I'm really quite happy to be reading a lengthy novel prior to beginning the Chunkster Challenge of next year, if only for the opportunity to gauge how many thick books I think I can tolerate reading in 6 months. I'm currently leaning toward three, if they're over 600 pages.

Apologies for not managing to drop by everyone else's blog, recently. I'm getting really weary of dial-up. DSL may finally be in my future. I hope so, anyway. Off to blog-hop! Happy Friday!


  1. Bookfool, I started reading "Once and Future King" this summer, but I couldn't get very far. The part I had a hard time with was that it read just like the Disney movie so there was no freshness. Good luck to you. Take heart, all chunksters are boring.

  2. LOL! Well, I've found some long ones I wouldn't consider boring, I think, but not many (and I can't remember a single title of engaging and lengthy fiction, just off the top of my head, which probably speaks for itself).
    I actually like the fact that the Disney movie mirrors the book, in some ways, because it's a novel with humor and the cartoon did (or does) embrace some of the lighthearted dialogue and unique scenes. I think the Disney people chose well when they edited down to a few choice scenes. However, they could only portray a tiny portion of the novel in the cartoon. There's plenty of interesting material, IMHO, but also some repetition.

    How far into the book did you get?

  3. I started The Once and Future King once and never got far into it. I considered trying it again, but my copy has wandered off... I prefer the more fantasic Arthurian retellings, like Marion Zimmer Bradley, or the more historial, like Jack Whyte, myself

  4. Kailana,

    I'm reading this book from a slightly different perspective as a person who usually avoids fantasy (I challenged myself to read one fantasy title, last year, as a change of pace -- and hated it). So this really is a rather unique read for me.

    I have, however, read some tales about King Arthur along with my son when I was homeschooling him. They were short and interconnected stories about the Knights of the Round Table and the Lady in the Lake, as I recall - very different from the tale of a young Wart as he's being educated by Merlyn.

  5. I just finished a chunkster, The Way the Crow Flies, my copy was 711 pages. So it took me quite a few days but it was very good! Not all big books are bad! :P

    I think I have The Once and Future King around here somewhere. Someday..

  6. What a lovely quote from C.S. Lewis. I've never heard it before, and he's one of my most favorites.
    I know what you mean about slogging through detail. The first arduous path is somewhat fun, when the author repeats the same idea in a different passage the fun is over. Am I correct in thinking you'll post a Chunkster Challenge for us all to join? I'm up for it!

    Two books to consider: the first is a love of Atavist's and mine "Atlas Shrugged." Huge in page number and ideaology. The second is "The Crimson Petal and The White" huge in pages and deails of historic England with a love story from a prostitute's point of view. OPh, and finally "Crime and Punishment which I want to read this winter so badly. Maybe I should stop commenting on YOUR blog and write my own ideas on mine. Sorry to be so invasive.

  7. Nat,

    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed The Way the Crow Flies as I do plan to read that fatty! I'm sure there are some big books I've enjoyed; I just can't remember any off the top of my head! I'm getting close to the halfway point in The Once and Future King and I'm still enjoying it. It's just a slog. LOL


    That wonderful quote is on a mug I bought at The Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. I've acquired about a half-dozen mugs with quotes by authors, most of which are from Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi.

    Yes, I'll post a Chunkster Challenge. I might do a countdown . . . 60 days . . . 28 days, etc., because I plan to begin in January and some people have hectic weeks during the holidays and would probably miss out if I didn't warn them about the upcoming challenge till some time in December.

    You're not being invasive; I love suggestions. I have a copy of Atlas Shrugged and hadn't thought of that. I'm going to start piling up my fat books in one place so that I'll have some variety to choose from during the challenge. I don't think I own a copy of Crime and Punishment but that one's been on my "I want to read it" list for years.

  8. I will definitely join your Chunkster Challenge. What fun!

  9. Anonymous10:25 PM

    Bookfool, I know the feeling, I get impatient too, especially when it feels like the book has no end! :) I do have a spot of good news to share with you however - a few days ago I started on a 531-page mini-chunkster ( I thought, with the Chunksters challenge around the corner, I'd best get some practice!) and I am currently on page 441. Seeing the end so close gives me a real sense of accomplishment, infact, I feel brave enough to pick up another mini, let's see if I do or not!

  10. Yippee, Bellezza! I'm glad you're joining!

    Lotus, good for you! I'll have to hop over to your blog to see what title you're referring to. I'm still just a little over halfway finished with my chunkster, but I kept falling asleep every time I tried to read, yesterday!

  11. Anonymous3:27 PM

    Happy Sunday, bookfool!

    I'm reading "Small Island" by Andrea Levy...I have been struggling with the last quarter for some reason. I should be done by today, but probably won't have a review up until Tuesday or so.
    Hope your chunkster gets livelier as you progress through it! :)

  12. Hi Lotus!

    "Small Island" is on my wish list, so I'll be looking forward to your review!

    "The Once and Future King" has some lively, adventurous moments and it's a great lesson in historical detail (although it would help if more of those items and creatures mentioned were in my dictionary); I just want it to move a little faster. LOL But, I still think it's a great book and plan to keep hacking away at it.

  13. I had a hard time with The Once and Future King. I actually ended up skimming the majority of The Sword in the Stone or whatever the first section is. It went much better after that.

  14. Hey Andi Sassypants,

    I stalled on Once and Future King, last night - just hit the wall. I didn't even want to pick it up. But, I've taken a painkiller, this morning, so maybe that will help me get through a few pages. ;) Seriously, it's just a ponderous book. I like the writing, particularly the silly-dialogue portions, but there are moments I want to throw in with the "ditch the adjectives and get on with the story" camp, if you know what I mean.

  15. Lotus, I struggled with the beginning of Small Island and enjoyed the second half. Funny how it's just the opposite for you. Looking forward to your review (over at your blog!). 'cuse us, Bookfool. ;)


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!