Against the Grain
Around 200 pages
I have been about 75 pages into this book for weeks, unable to make myself finish it. It's so strange that a 200 page novel could feel as long winded as an entry in A Dance to the Music of Time. Finally today I forced myself to endure the remaining pages. I am going to treat myself to something wonderfully trashy as a reward.
Clearly inspired by the vastly superior Bouvard and Pecuchet, Against the Grain tells the story of Jean des Essientes, the last member of a noble family. He once lived a life of debauchery in Paris (we get it List Books, Paris=vice), but now seeks a quieter life in the country. He then has some wacky misadventures, like when he gets a toothache or when he tries to encrust his tortoise's shells with jewels and accidentally kills it. Okay, the adjective "wacky" might have been a bit too generous.
I am racking my brain trying to think of redeeming qualities of this book. Let's see. I suppose the literary references might be of interest to my fellow nerds, but the allusions are somewhat obscure. In fact, this entire novel is so firmly situated in a specific place and time that it felt incredibly foreign to me (and this is coming from someone who thought The Female Quixote was relatable).
I would recommend sticking to Flaubert.
Considered the ultimate example of "decadent" literature.
UP NEXT: Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant.