Now that the year is coming to an end, it’s time to start publishing my wrap up posts for all those reading challenges I signed up for! I actually finished the Chunkster Challenge a couple of months ago, but I waited until now to a wrap up because I knew I still had a couple of chunksters (books longer than 450 pages) left on this year’s TBR list. After some reshuffling of my TBR pile, I think I’m pretty much done with chunksters for 2010.
The books I read for this challenge were:
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – 568 pages [review]
- The Crime of Father Amaro by José Maria Eça de Queirós – 480 pages [review]
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – 817 pages
- Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – 562 pages [review]
- Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza – 558 pages [review]
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie – 576 pages
My goal was to read 4 chunksters, but as you can see, I ended up reading 6. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t intend to double down on Jonathan Franzen this year, either. But since I did, I can say with certainty that I like The Corrections more than Freedom (though Freedom is awesome too), and I appreciated it more on my second reading.
You’ll be hearing more of The Crime of Father Amaro some time next month, but I will say that it was one of my favorite books of the challenge!
My least favorite book of the bunch was Some Sing, Some Cry because of the transition/ plot issues I mention in my review, but it was still an entertaining and enjoyable read.
Final thoughts: YAY! I finally read Anna Karenina, which I’d read about 200 pages of like 8 years ago, then never returned to. I loved what I’d read back then, but at the time I was a full time student with a demanding schedule, and I just never got around to finishing it. I’m also quite pleased I read The Satanic Verses this year because it had been on my TBR list for a long, long time. But I have yet to write reviews on these two, so I’ll stop here.
Worst was the image of the little girl curled up inside her, a girl not much larger than a large bug but already a witness to such harm. Witness to a tautly engorged little brain that dipped in and out beyond the cervix and then, with a quick double spasm that could hardly be considered adequate warning, spat thick alkaline webs of spunk into her private room. Not even born, and already drenched in sticky knowledge.
Alfred lay catching his breath and repenting his defiling of the baby. A last child was an opportunity to learn from one’s mistakes and make corrections, and he resolved to seize this opportunity…But he’d squirted such filth on her when she was helpless. She’d witnessed such scenes of marriage, and so of course, when she was older, she betrayed him. (281)
I first read Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections about 8 or 9 years ago, back when it first came out. By the time I finished it, I was in love with the work; for the past 8 or 9 years, I’ve considered it one of my favorite books of all time. Upon re-reading it, I found that so much of my memory of the events in the book has faded. I vaguely remembered some of the plot, but the one passage of the book I clearly remembered (and have thought of occasionally throughout the years), is the above passage.
It’s so strange to think of angsty, 20-year-old me falling in love with The Corrections. The book, which follows the various travails of the Lambert family, is not a terribly easy read. I mostly remember delighting over the fact that Franzen spurned Oprah’s Book Club. I also remember relating so much to the characters’ experiences in some weird way, even though most of the situations the characters found themselves in are things I can’t fathom ever doing.
And now here I am, a twenty-something (still somewhat angsty) grown woman with much more sophisticated literature under my belt (definitely picked up on the Infinite Jest influences). I also have much more life experience under my belt, and I find myself relating to some of the characters themselves. I really don’t know what this says about me, as all of the characters are obnoxious, horrible, abusive people with little to no redeeming qualities, but I think that’s what I love about Franzen’s book. He takes various aspects of humanity, turns them up several notches, and presents them in their most extreme forms as train wreck you can’t tear your eyes away from. Yet underneath the humor, the wacky side plots, and the drama still lie those truths about human nature.