June 9, 2014: The Monkey’s Paw!

Seriously.  I feel as though I’m the main character in a contemporary retelling of The Monkey’s Paw.  You know the story: Guy acquires a monkey’s paw that is purported to grant its owner three wishes.  Too late, said owner realizes he should have heeded the old adage “Be careful what you wish for.”.  There have been countless adaptations since the W. W. Jacobs’ short story first saw print in 1902, in literature, music, film & television.  The pinnacle, of course, being the Treehouse of Horrors episode of The Simpsons in which Lisa’s wish for world peace leads countries to destroy their nuclear stockpile, allowing aliens to sweep in and conquer a defenseless Earth.  Later in the episode, Homer’s wish for a turkey sandwich also has horrific unforeseen consequences…

Presently, I’m somewhere between a Homer and Lisa level of anguish of looming tragedy.

Somewhere down on my list of wishes, I’ll say #1089, is “I wish I had better handwriting”.  It’s so bad that there are times I can’t even decipher my own scrawl. But today, Akemi saved me a wish by informing me that Japanese researchers have discovered a link between atrocious handwriting and intelligence.  According to their findings. the thought process of brilliant individuals works so quickly that the physical act of writing can barely keep up.  Obviously, this explains my chicken scratch.  On the bright side, said researchers provide hope to those who would nevertheless like to improve their longhand.  Apparently, calligraphy helps.  I was heartened to hear it because I think I have a natural gift for flourished script. Check out the obvious talent in my Japanese signature:

June 9, 2014: The Monkey’s Paw!I’m a regular Fujiawa no Shunzei, don’t you think?

Well, sadly, I won’t be breaking last month’s record of 25 books read (Yes, let’s not forget our Book of the Month Club).  I’ve spun my wheels on and abandoned TWO books this month.  This RARELY ever happens.  Even the bad ones, which are usually mercifully short, I manage to get through.  But not these two.  I gave them a shot – 100 pages for one, 65 for another, but, ultimately, I just couldn’t do it. Happily, it’s much smoother sailing on Justin Cronin’s The Passage.

So, I’m curious.  What was the last book you gave up on why?

31 thoughts on “June 9, 2014: The Monkey’s Paw!

  1. Don’t laugh, but I most recently gave up on Allegiant, the third book in the Divergent series. The first two were written from the girl’s POV, but the third alternates between her and the guy at each chapter. I kept finding myself confused as to whose head I was in and having to flip back to the first page of the chapter to remind myself. I don’t understand the need for the change. Either write the entire series that way, or don’t do it at all.

  2. The last book I gave up on? Hmmm.. Oh! It’s some book called the Time Thief or something like that. My sister was trying to get me to read it. It’s just not my cup of tea. What happened is other exciting books came along. I still have that book around here somewhere! Thanks for reminding me!

  3. Hi Mr M!
    Long time no comment! Glad to see the Baron over on Twitter!
    Re: abandoned books – “Washington Square” by James Shirley. Got 100 pages in and left it. I rarely toss a book. My feeling is (a) the author got it published – so somebody somewhere thought it was a good read and (b) the average cost of a book is two coffees!! Which will stay with you? The coffee or the book? Even if its one thought/sentence that strikes a chord – surely it’s worth persevering? Sadly for Waahington Square I didn’t!!
    Hi to all the regulars – and I’m back on the blog!!!
    Best from Ireland – S’n’T

  4. The last one I abandoned was called “The Rich and the Dead”. You may have heard of it.

    Today, got back from Whistler to Vancouver and thankfully no traffic fatalities at the side of the road this time. I did stop at several waterfalls along the way though, which were very relaxing. Maybe pictures later.

    Back home tomorrow!

  5. I think your signature is lovely Joe. Jyo Maroji. Very nice.

    I haven’t given up on a book in quite a while. I usually slog through to the end out of some misguided sense of duty. One that I’m having trouble with is Steven Erickson’s Gardens of the Moon. I have picked it up twice, and just haven’t been able to get into it. However, I haven’t quite given up on it yet.

    I’m glad you are enjoying The Passage. I picked up the second book in the trilogy last year but haven’t read it yet because I think I should reread
    The Passage first – hmmm. Where the heck did I put it?

  6. Does giving up on the GoT series after the first book count?

    I almost gave up on READY PLAYER ONE but was close enough to the end to slog it out.

    I’m sure there were one or two more; will let it percolate.

  7. Jenny — I actually gave up on the first book in that series, after maybe 50 pages. I just couldn’t buy into the world AT ALL. Then I read spoilers about how the series ended and am glad I didn’t bother.

    I give up on books with some frequency. Basically I figure life’s too short to keep reading a book that I’m not enjoying, and I’ve got way too many other books to read. Most recently, I think I gave up on some Frank Peretti kids’ books I’d had as a kid. I didn’t enjoy them all that much then, and they really didn’t hold up to adult reading. (IMO, anyway.)

    One recent book that I gave up on was the new James Dashner book, which I felt slightly bad about. I’d gotten an ARC of it, but I started it and it just seemed so done that I couldn’t continue. Boy gets trapped in virtual reality game world. Been there, never really liked it, don’t want to go back. Partly because the game was written like an extension of MMOs, and I play those, so I know that the whole reason MMOs work as a business is that they’re very easy to play, so pretty much anyone can do well and get hooked. In this book, it’s actually super challenging to get to the higher levels and only like one guy’s done it and it made him famous. So that’s part of the reason I quit, too.

  8. Under the Tuscan Sun. Loved the movie. The book – CRAP. It’s all about recipes and home renovation. Talk about the screenplay writer taking liberties with the story. Other than the writer’s name…and Italy…very little similarities.

  9. I gave up on a Richard K. Morgan novel and a Neil Gaiman novel, not because they were bad, but because there were just so many interruptions that re-finding my place over and over was making it un-enjoyable. There were times I may have actually been losing progress toward finishing the books, reading backwards in a way. I stopped the Gaiman novel half-way through when my renewals at the library ran out. I stopped the Morgan novel 85% of the way through when I took a break to brace myself for the upcoming violence and then realized it was only fun to wonder what happens next, not what happens in the next sentence and a half before the next interruption. I can barely get any tv-watching in either. I save my less-interrupted time for studying programming and mindlessly surf the internet as my down-time because it’s less frustrating to be interrupted when doing that.

    Some of the books the kids want read to them are so boring to me that I have to make a game out of adding some rhythm or silliness. But “Daisy the Doctor” is so mind-numbing, I just smack myself in the forehead with it every half page. The three-year old is getting tired of that schtick.

  10. The last book I gave up on was The Silmarillion. Tolkien is brilliant, but that book put me to sleep so many times, I finally gave up on it.

  11. The last book I gave up on was Outies by Jennifer Pournelle. She took over The Mote in God’s Eye series from her father Jerry Pournelle. I enjoyed her father’s work and was hoping it would be a smooth transition to her work, but the pacing was too slow to hold my attention and the character interplay a little too two dimensional.

    Presently, I’m somewhere between a Homer and Lisa level of anguish of looming tragedy.

    So halfway is a world that is half-enslaved with dry turkey sandwiches?

    Hopefully your anguish is resolved soon; is it script/project related?

  12. I don’t necessarily give up on books, it’s that I fall asleep reading them, or forget to read them, or find myself reading the same page again and again. Age.

    @ ShirtnTie – Good to hear from you! Welcome back! Please stay awhile! How’s the dentistry business?

  13. Hmmm…

    Last time I quit on a book was a long time ago – all I remember is that it was a book of short stories, and the first or second story involved a man getting raped by a stranger and just letting it happen in a ‘ho hum’ kinda way and I just could go any further. I dropped a murder mystery once by an author I really enjoyed – forget the author now, but she…he…it…whatever!…wrote these nice cozy Brit mysteries and so I tried another title, a mystery based in the US, and right from the get-go there was this weird sexual encounter that just turned me sour. I’m sorry – if you’re trying to ‘entice’ me into reading your work by slapping me in the face with graphic sex right away, I’m not playing. It usually just feels too forced and uncomfortable. The only book I could tolerate that started off with sex was the first Alan Lewrie book by Dewey Lambdin, mostly because it was fitting for the character, and set him up as a rake who was forced to go to sea to save the family’s honor. (Also, anyone going into historical nautical fiction has to be prepared for frolicking doxies and buggery below decks…it just comes with the genre.)

    I suppose it all has to do with fitting the setting, and the character. If something just broadsides me out of nowhere it usually turns me right off, but if the tone of the work lends itself to a bit of naughtiness, then it’s not an awkward bump in what one otherwise expected to be a smooth story. Still, I prefer innuendo over the graphic – my imagination is good enough that I can easily fill in the blanks. Far better is it for me to do that than to be sitting there, book in hand, wondering how the hell the author kept a straight face while writing such a preposterous sex scene.

    That’s mostly what will make me drop a book. I’m fairly tolerant of stories, even boring ones, and I usually don’t end up with boring ones anyway because I am very picky and stick with genres I know I will enjoy.


  14. I had a book on my Kindle that I didn’t recall getting… so it was probably free or cheap. It is the first book in eons I simply could not finish.. Extinct Doesn’t Mean Forever – edited by Phoenix Sullivan. Terrible short stories.

    Oddly I then tried to read 2 different books by Gene Straton-Porter. Fans, sorry but I don’t care how many awards and how incredible some find her– I found her mind-numbing boring.

    And then I deleted a play (Women’s Minyan by Naomi Ragen) that also has many awards. Yawn fest. Perhaps as a live play I might have liked it. Perhaps if I didn’t already KNOW the issues in it then it would have held my interest.

    Normally if I start it, I won’t stop so to have 2 books and an author’s entire (I got a ton of hers free or for 99 cents) works deleted… just really rare.

    But I am deep into Raymond L Atkins’ third book and quite loving his writing.

  15. Very good job with the firm. I see, you’re almost making you monk following the zenzai path full of koans.

    Be careful what you wish for you might get it!
    With my second favorite: No good deed goes unpunished.

    I finish every book I start. But if they are bad or do not like it, make me an aversion to that particular author and now I am unable to give it another try. Meaning, you if I like an author and one of his books is a little loose, is not the same as bad solemnity.

  16. It was a while back, but I gave up on Hunters of Dune by (the son) Brian Herbert and a collaborator. I found it heavy and very, very repetitious. It was filled with reminders and call-backs to the original (dad’s) books. There might have been an idea or two that kept me going for over a hundred pages but I don’t think I’ll ever try any of their books again.

    The last book that I sort of wished I had given up: Under the Dome, by Stephen King.

  17. It would have been The Rich and The Dead but since it was a book club pick I stuck it out… regretfully.

    Before that it was PD James’ Shroud for a NIghtingale-not sure why-I really liked Cover Her Face

    I also couldn’t get going on The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

    I might give the last 2 another chance someday. Sometimes, I think it’s not the book-it’s just my mood. other times (like The Rich and the Dead) it’s totally justified.

  18. Whoopsies…

    Forgot to say a BIG HOWDY! to ShirtnTie! Good to see you’re still around! 😀


  19. I’m a frequent browser of the “free” section at the Kindle store. I’ve found a few good authors that way but some of them aren’t worth finishing. I used to finish every book but there are so many great books out there, why settle? The last one I didn’t finish, surprisingly, was a Clive Cussler book. He’s usually a good read but I couldn’t get through his book Poseidon’s Arrow.

    Beautiful calligraphy! What does it say?

    I used to have readable handwriting but lately, I type everything, so I’m out of practice.

    Waves to ShirtnTie!

    JeffW: I liked The Mote in God’s Eye! Thanks for the warning on the new series.

  20. The last book I gave up on was Atlas Shrugged, because I couldn’t handle any more 20-page speeches. I finally said, “Screw it,” and called my mother to ask her how it ended. I’m still surprised by this one, because I usually give up early on.

  21. Joe, I’ll have to agree on your handwriting.

    Back at the end of SG-1 in 2007, I received one of the signed copies of the SG-1 “A Celebration of 10 Years” books. I was able to determine one of the signatures was Claudia Black. I posted an image of the other to your blog and you told me that the other was indeed you. So yeah, I could not decipher your signature. =)

    I just recently gave up on an e-book book called “I Zombie” by Jo Michaels. It was horribly written in colloquial speech. I guess she was attempting to convey the southern Louisiana dialect. And the author mentioned the word “eyebrows” over 46 times (I stopped counting). Granted it was free. But it was baaaaad.

  22. *waves @ Shirt ‘n Tie*. See you in the Twitterverse!

    @skua: “firma” translates to “signature”, not “firm”, in this context.

    More on unfinished books:

    THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood (have never seen the entire film, either). It’s been a long time, but I either found it boring or distasteful.

    ONE TRUE THING by Anna Quindlen, pub. 1994 (also missed the 1998 film). Subject matter hit too close to home, as my father’s health was deteriorating (passed in 98). Never picked it up again, probably would cry rivers if I did.

    It’s rare for me to leave a book unfinished. I was a really early and voracious reader.

  23. Oh, I gave up on DUNE the first time I tried it, probably in my early teens, but enjoyed it years later.

  24. Joe you sound unusually frustrated, what’s up? Do some more calligraphy, it should help calm you. Kind of like practicing the cello calms me. My teacher says I’m very ‘Tai Chi’ with my bow but unfortunately I don’t think that’s a compliment. Ah well. Maybe calligraphy would be a better fit? 😉

    As far as giving up on books welp, I guess there’s a few. Like BoltBait the Silmarillion was just too much. The idea was to get a deeper understanding of the LOTR-verse but in the end I couldn’t maintain interest. I did read Atlas Shrugged as well as the Fountainhead . Those are books that should have been abandoned. My youngest sister (the one with the psych degree) loves Ayn Rand to death while I find Ayn Rand nothing but annoying, pretentious and even somewhat misogynist. Peter Those 20 page speeches are awful aren’t they! So much martyrdom. Barf.
    What do the rest of you all think?

    I’m all caught up on the BOTM and am now contemplating getting a copy of The Troop . Maybe. In theory I should be working my way through Practical Law of Architecture, Engineering, and Geoscience and Canadian Professional Engineering And Geoscience: Practice And Ethics but somehow it’s just not happening. Kathode is rocking her way through it though, so maybe The Troop should wait. Yeah. It can wait. Yeaaahhh.

  25. @ baterista9

    Thanks. You know when te word has a similar in the two idioms you tend to use the most similar to yours.

  26. I would’ve given up on Evening’s Empires within the first 40 pages if it hadn’t been a book club selection. Too much jargon I didn’t know.

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually given up on a book. I’ve considered it often but never followed through. The ones that I’ve considered giving up on, aside from Evening’s Empires, are: any Dan Brown novel (I think I’ve read 2?); The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Redshirts; and just recently, Blood Will Out (the one by Walter Kirn; there are a lot of books with that title, apparently).

    I persevere through the schlock mostly out of curiosity as to how the story will end, or whether the monument to awful writing will continue to swell to even more gargantuan proportions. It’s a bit like watching a train wreck.

    Currently, I’m plodding my way through (not, as Katydid suggests, rocking my way through) Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience, which I would certainly walk away from if I had that luxury. Unfortunately, I will be tested on its content in 41 days, so plod I must.

  27. Oh, I forgot Runaway Jury. That was ridiculously bad. But I still read all the way to the end.

    I’m very curious what you think of The Passage. I have a feeling you’re not going to dig the ending. (I didn’t.)

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