Last year I’m not sure if I had any books that I DNFed (Did Not Finish) and already this year, with my giving up on The Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir of the Lost and Found by Frederick Buechner yesterday, I am up to three. The other two books were Waiting For Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk and Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
The Trofimuk book was for a readalong with a group of book bloggers on Twitter, the McCann book was because several other book bloggers had recommended the book and the Buechner book was for a readalong with My Friend Amy for Frederick Buechner Week February 28 through March 4, where she, I and other bloggers were to read and discuss it. I also had agreed to review one other book of his and write an essay on his influence in my life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any of his books at our library in time to review and he really hasn’t influenced my life in recent years. When I was in college, I remember reading some of his work and being impressed how he could bring religious concepts down to earth for the layperson. His head wasn’t in the clouds, but that’s as much as I can say. I don’t think I really could write a essay on that.
Specifically with this book, I found myself not caring about learning his family history. I thought I was going to learn more about him and instead I seemed to be learning about his ancestors. At one point, he starts telling about a biography of a great-great grandfather (I’m not sure how many greats actually) that a great-great grandmother kept of the great-great grandfather and how his life was unremarkable. That leads to not surprisingly an unremarkable story about the great-great grandfather, that goes on for about 40 pages. The only point of interest is that this ancestor was treated by Clara Barton during the Civil War and then that his ancestor thought he was in love with her, and blah, blah, blah. Well, at least, to me, that’s what I heard.
At other points in the memoir, he drops other names of people his family encountered or of authors he’s read. Bottom line: I found myself not caring about any of it and wanting to hear more about his life than all these other people’s lives.
Maybe if I returned to this at another time, for example, when I’m not dealing with allergies with the onset of spring and changes in the weather, I’d find the memoir fascinating, but right now I don’t have the patience for it. What’s sad for me is that the book is under 200 pages, and I still can’t finish it. However, I’m learning not to feel too sad about not finishing books, because I have plenty of other books on my shelves — and the shelves of the library where I work– waiting to be read.
Have you had success with readalongs with others? For some reason, I haven’t, even though in two of the cases, I thought I would enjoy the book. Do you ever DNF? If you do, do you write about it or do you just ignore it and move on? Do you feel guilty?
Lest you think I hate Buechner all around, for the record, I thoroughly enjoyed reading his novel Godric, which I joined Amy and others reading it for a Faith’N’Fiction Saturday Roundtable last year. When I was in college, the books by him that I enjoyed reading were The Hungering Dark, The Alphabet of Grace and Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC.