The Way Out My Ass

It's funny how the Los Angeles Times and I just don't agree on some things. The very first sentence of Laurel Maury's review of Jesse Ball's The Way Through Doors (Vintage) begins: "Jesse Ball's 'The Way Through Doors' is a lovely, unpretentious little thing -- about as promising and sweet as a second novel can be."

Rarely do I abandon a novel before reading it to the end. Something just doesn't feel right about it, but given the right (or wrong, rather) item I have been known to discard out of windows, burn with fire or simply put a book in the recycling. It happens so rarely that I find something so awful that I choose not to pass it on to someone with differing tastes that might enjoy it. Ball's second novel truly hurt the nerve endings in my eyes as they rolled harder within their sockets with such ferocity and frequency. Not pretentious? This is probably the most pretentious garbage I have ever read.

The metaphysical idea of a door is such an expansive subject to take on. It's an entrance. It's an exit. It's a portal. What's on the other side? What is on this side? Inject this into the personal lives and relationships of fictional characters and put them in settings from ministry offices to Coney Island boardwalks and you've got yourself a difficult format to tackle. I believe this book would be loved by all that appreciate the most abstract of novels, but while I endlessly love just about everything Borges has ever written I once again see how I am very much a cut 'n dry kind of story girl. I recently read Collins' Beginner's Greek and Harry, Revised, the debut novel from Elegant Variation blogger Mark Sarvas. Both were wonderful.

Is there an acquaintance that you generally avoid talking to because his or her storytelling seems to be solely for their own satisfaction, and not with any attempt to give you, their unfortunate listener, any rope to grab on to in their endless babble? Yes? Well, then you may have already read this book. The easy way out for me is to say that Ball simply falls too deep into abstraction and his poetic backbone that he abandons stories with his whimsical pace. I say this because while my instinct is "No, finish this book and then...then if you still declare its suckage, write about it"...I didn't. I returned it to the library from whence it came, and breathed a rather audible sigh of relief while doing so.

1 comment:

Russ said...

you are a better person than i if you are able to STOP a crap book before the end. i let them abuse me.