I would like to begin with a few words in praise of Mr. Neil Gaiman.
I love Neil Gaiman, although I’ve only finished two of his books. I obviously had to read Neverwhere, because it’s set in (quite literally) the underbelly of London, and I love books set in the underbelly of London. I’ve also read The Graveyard Book, which is a fantastic young adult novel that won the Newbery in 2009. The latter proves that Gaiman really knows how to handle a cemetery with the proper degree of humor, eeriness, and tombstone crumbliness.
I have also heard many wonderful things about Neil Gaiman the Person.
Despite my Gaiman fandom, I’m faced with a problem. I’m halfway through one of his books — Anansi Boys — and I’m thinking about quitting.
I call it quitting because I consider this a failure on my part as a reader. I hate replacing a book on the shelf before I finished it. What if, two pages later, the author trots out an ingenious description or plot device that would completely change my mind? What if I discover, on the final page, that in fact I’ve been missing the point, and EUREKA! I get it now! Or what if I’m just in a reading funk, and I’m not giving the author a fair shake?
At times such as these my brain begins lobbying for the author, citing particular character quirks and turns of phrase that I found funny or endearing or clever. As I fell asleep last night, pondering the fate of Anansi Boys, the wee Gaiman lawyer in my brain was collecting evidence. But remember that part with the flamingos? You like the part with the flamingos! And what about that business with the mirrored brothers in the photograph? Nice.
I’m going to finish Anansi Boys, because I’ve realized that I care too much about the characters to leave them frozen in their current postures, on page 197.
And, in any case, I suspect that my restlessness is not entirely due to the novel but instead to the surprising and unprecedented length of my to-read list. Trying Leviathan by D. Graham Burnett is still sadly unread, I just picked up Into the Woods by Tana French for three bucks at Half-Price Books, and the behemoth of one of the newer relevant critical books in my field — The Evolution of Childhood by Melvin Konner — leers at me from the top of my bookcase. And oh so many others.
So carrots readers — are you compulsive book finishers? What, if anything, makes you take out your bookmark and close the covers?