Friday, July 11, 2008

Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry

I received this arc from Stephanie at So Many Books. It sounded like it would be right up my alley. So, I was more than a little disappointed when I discovered that this book is not what I expected at all. First of all, it's not a memoir. It's not even really a book per se. If anything, I'd describe this as a random collection of thoughts from McMurtry. There is absolutely no organization to the book whatsoever. Each 'chapter' (which is often only a couple of paragraphs) dryly details some recollection from McMurtry regarding his life as a writer and bookman. The snippets go back and forth in time and I was never quite sure at what point in his life I was reading about. Normally, I don't mind a non-linear structure, but this was not done well at all. It was jarring and confusing. I also never got any feeling as to McMurtry's emotions or passions regarding books, and I didn't really learn anything much about his life. It read as a long list of his dealings with particular second hand bookshops and bookmen. To be fair, this was an arc that I read. But, I don't think publishers usually make major changes, but rather just correct typographical errors, etc. But, I would be anxious to see the published book just to compare it to the arc. I don't usually finish books that I don't like, but in this case, it read so quickly that it was over before I knew it. I love books about books but this one just didn't deliver. In fact, I'm really surprised that this book made it to publication. After finishing the book, I went back and read what Stephanie had to say about it just to see if I had missed something. If you're interested in what Stephanie had to say about this book, check it out here. If you've read this book, please let me know what you thought. I don't like doing negative reviews, so I will end on a positive note -- the book did make me want to go book scouting. Who knows, maybe I'll find a rare treasure at the local Goodwill.

8 comments:

Tara said...

This book sounds extremely unfulfilling. I don't like to give negative reviews either, but sometimes the material does justify it.

Lisa said...

tara, it was so disappointing. I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Andi said...

Bummer! I had such high hopes for this one, but I'm glad to read your review so I don't go plunk down good money for it.

Lisa said...

andi, I know! I still feel sort of guilty because that is probably the most negative review I've ever written. But, I didn't want all of you book lovers out there to waste your money on it.

stefanie said...

I'm sorry you didn't like it. I was hoping you would. but I am glad to know I am not the only one who found it lacking.

Lisa said...

stefanie, I know -- I wanted to like it. I do appreciate you sending it to me, though. After going back and reading what you had written about the book again after reading it made it easier for me to write my feelings. I hate doing negative reviews, but I just couldn't put a positive spin on this one.

Jessica said...

I've wanted to like this book too, ever since I first heard of it a few months go. But, from what I've read, it sounds like I should just skim through it at the library. Thanks for the review.

Lisa said...

jessica, I feel so bad turning people off this book, but I don't want people to run out and buy it and be disappointed. I'm glad the copy I read was an arc. Definitely pick it up at the library. Maybe just dipping in to it and reading it like a disparate collection of essays would be a better approach.