I am giving up on 1776 by David McCullough. Normally, I am too task-oriented to not finish a book once I start it, but I find it easier to drop an audio book than a paper book. Maybe there is something too immediately tactile about abandoning a paper book, while stopping the audio book is more of a "virtual" abandonment. In any event, I only got through about two hours of the 12 hours of 1776. Nothing against McCullough's writing, which is first rate, but I simply do not enjoy stories about battles. The guns, the tents, the weather, the food, the boots, the horses -- none of it interests me. I did not realize that this book was all about fighting the first year of the Revolutionary War. So, great book. Just not my cup of tea.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Despite its title, I was surprised by how myth-centric The Centaur is. It is the story of a high school science teacher and his student son. It is also John Updike's re-telling of the myth of the centaur Chiron who, wounded, gives his life (his immortality) to Prometheus.
This is a book I may appreciate more in the recollection. While reading it, I was distracted by the allegory. Sometimes, the mythical references were too vague or convoluted to catch and I had to refer to the index at the back to make sure I wasn't missing something important. But at times, the myth is more than allegory -- it is right there in the middle of the action. Updike sometimes refers to the hero as Chiron and describes his hooves clacking on the school stairs, for instance. I found the switch from allegory to action to be jarring.
Also, the hero was annoying, not just to me as a reader, but to his son, wife, and co-workers in the story. I can't figure out how his unlikeability ties in with the myth of Chiron.
I read this because it won the National Book Award in 1964. I prefer his Rabbit novels.