Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
I’m not sure this really counts as a true plot device, and I’m sure there will be several literary purists who will think I’m a fraud for complaining about this, but I despise the long philosophical ramble disguised as speech.
Not sure if there’s some actual literary term for it, but the most notable example that comes to mind for me appears in Atlas Shrugged. John Galt goes on for about 70 pages (and three hours, if the speech were actually being delivered aloud) outlining Rand’s theory of Objectivisim. Now Atlas Shrugged is a monster of a book and many people read it precisely for the philosophical undertones, but if you’re just trying to make it through a novel that you’re kind of enjoying, running up against this slog of a chapter is a bit much. Holy hell, can Rand go on and on and on. I tried, I honestly did. But I could not make it through that whole speech.
In The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan takes time out to enlighten Alyosha (and bore the hell out of me) with his story about The Grand Inquisitor. For many people, this is their favorite part of the book. I am not one of those people. Alyosha’s interruptions don’t really help. I think I ended up skimming most of this. I don’t really remember. I’m sure I didn’t actually just skip ahead as I did with Atlas Shrugged, but I’m quite lucky there was no pop quiz at the end of that chapter, let me tell you.
And then there’s James Joyce.
I have attempted to read James Joyce exactly once. I was still in high school. I checked out Ulysses with the best of intentions. I really did. I don’t even think I made it to Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at the end. I’m sure I gave up much before that. But come on! The man shuns punctuation! And to some, this is the mark of his literary genius. To me? It’s a bit of an annoyance. Take this bit from Wikipedia, the final words of the novel:
“…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. “
You’ve got to be kidding me.
So there you go. I like to pretend I’m a literary snob, when I’m nothing but a fraud, skipping over the (in my opinion) boring bits.
And my 30 Days of Books marches on!
[NB: Okay, I’m dumb. Soliloquy was probably that literary term I was looking for earlier. Maybe.]