The name of this blog, The Incomplete Reader, came from a book I started to read 50 years ago and have still not finished! I’m sure we all have books like that on our shelves, books in which we lost interest part way through, or that just needed a different time or context.
I’ve enjoyed the Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike novels and was looking forward to reading the latest, The Ink Black Heart. I started and I have stopped. The plot revolves around a chat on Twitter and other platforms and the chat string is in the book just like you’d see it online. It is really hard to read and, as I found out by googling around, it’s particularly hard on an e-reader like Kindle. The book is 1000+ pages and that seems like a long way to go with a difficult-to-read text. So I employed the Nancy Pearl rule: if you are 50 or younger, read 50 pages and then change to another book. If you are over 50, subtract your age from 100 and then go ahead and shift. I actually made it to p. 155 (26 would have been my magic number). And I quit.
So this led me to another started but not finished novel, The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. Mantel sadly died on September 22 at age 70 following a stroke. I had started this volume 3 of her Thomas Cromwell series (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are the first two) a couple years ago and then set it aside for one reason or another. But I am very happy to be back in the court of Henry VIII with Cromwell and the rest. She writes this amazing description of Henry after a meeting with his courtiers on the possible fate of his daughter Mary: Now the same prince, dragging away from the council chambers wraps his gown about himself, the fine calf visibly bandaged, his face puffy and pale. Henry is the site, his body the locus, the blood and bile and phlegm; his burdened and oppressed flesh the place where all arguments come to rest. (pp. 97-98) This is a book to finish.