This happens to me every so often, and I think it comes from a kind of overload. Too much good literature and I get feeling a bit bloated and logy. Too much literary turkey dinner, if I may make a bad analogy.
This is all my fault, too. I rarely read anything other than what people like to call “literary fiction.” More character- than plot-driven stories. Sometimes very dark themes. What draws me to this “genre” is that every once in a while, I find an author who has such command of the English language that I can tell s/he is playing/painting with words. Duluth by Gore Vidal. The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt. Two virtuoso performances. Rich reading.
But now, I’m left with the feeling like I’m too full to read. Like I need to go on a diet of sorts. Or detox. I don’t know.
I was in a similar spot a couple of years ago. No books would hold my interest. Until. Aimlessly wandering in fiction stacks of our public library, I happened upon The First Casualty by Ben Elton. That name made my eyes go wide. The co-writer of one of the finest TV comedy series (Blackadder) was also a best-selling novelist. The final season of Blackadder was set in the trenches of World War I, and here was a book that told of a murder investigation in those same trenches.
And. It wasn’t what I would normally call literary fiction. It was populated by interesting characters, but it was the plot that kept everything going. Elton, having written for TV and film, knows a thing or two about pacing. I started reading the first couple of pages there in the library and I was hooked.
I took it home and devoured it in less than a day. It was a page-turner unlike any I’d read before. Each page made me want more. When I finished it, I went back to the library and borrowed more of his books. Those done, I revisited books I’d previously read. Started reading one of Stephen Fry’s novels, realized I’d read it before, but continued on because it was a damn good read.
The momentum from that initial thrust by Ben Elton has lasted up until quite recently. I guess I’m looking for that next book, the one that will open my eyes again. I guess that makes this post the most round-about way of asking, “Hey, you know a good book I can read?”