Fat Books & Thin Women

30 Day Book Meme, Day 11
August 12, 2011, 1:51 pm
Filed under: 30 Day Book Meme | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A book you hated:

In November I read, and fell in love with, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. Otranto is widely recognized as the first gothic novel and opens with a man being crushed by a giant helmet that falls from the sky. It gets more ridiculous from there and the book reads as a high-energy romp through scenes that could easily form the basis for a Monty Python sketch. I had read Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey years before and didn’t understand most of the Gothic parody so, in a burst of inspiration, I decided to further educate myself on the Gothic before rereading Austen’s novel, starting with M.G. Lewis’s The Monk.

It’s been at least six, seven months since I started the book and I still don’t want to admit that I’m never going to finish it. Not because I can see a glimmer of hope in the book, because I think I’ll come around when I read its last chapters; rather, because the book is so irredeemably bad that I don’t want to think about all the time I blew reading the first 70%, without even managing to knock the damn thing off my shelf for good.

Lewis’s story, about an irreproachable monk, Ambrosio, who falls off his pedestal once he starts sleeping with his pupil, Matilda, who has disguised herself as a boy (and, even better, posed for a portrait of the Virgin Mary hanging in Ambrosio’s vault so that she would appear to be the embodiment of Jesus’s mother). Like all men, once he’s bagged Matilda Ambrosio is ready to move on, and he falls further and further into depredation as the novel progresses. The plot’s motion is halted repeatedly by Lewis’s jaunts into other stories, like one about a nun’s ghost and another about a romance between Antonia (the woman Ambrosio sets his sights on after Matilda) and Lorenzo.

Lewis wrote The Monk in ten weeks, and I gotta say: it reads like it. Actually, what The Monk reads like is the first NaNoWriMo novel, with Lewis aiming for those 50,000 words and busting with pride when he manages to overshoot that count by his innumerable digressions into God Knows What.

In theory, The Monk is an appealing book: one of the earliest Gothic novels and very transgressive in having a monk as its villian. In practice, the book is a fine sleep aid.

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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