Book Twentyone: Ten Days in the Hills

Ten Days in the Hills, Jane Smiley

Have you ever had a book that was trying to kick your ass? I mean, it sucked so bad that you felt like it was actually defeating you? Well, my response to that kind of book is to fight back. I know, I know. The rational response should be to simply admit defeat, give up, and move on to another book. But I just can't help myself. I'm like Rocky. I feel like I just need to go the distance, even though I know I'm clearly outmatched. Simply put, this book is Apollo Creed and even though it bested me in the end, I'm the one at the top of the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art pumping my fists in the air and punching sides of beef. Wait... what? I think that metaphor got away from me in the end.

Okay, so what's this book about? A bunch of characters gather in someone's house in the hills of LA (for ten days, duh), and some of them have strangely graphic but not-at-all erotic sex and then they all just talk and talk and talk and talk. When it was suggested by someone in our book club, I had hopes for something like The Anniversary Party. But no such luck. This quote, from the perspective of one of the characters (and I didn't even like this guy!), pretty much sums up how I felt about everyone in the book.

It was as if he had somehow embarked on a cruise, something he had avoided all his life, and suddenly here he was, far out in a sea of languor with a group of people who on land could be avoided, and were therefore fine enough, but here, on this cruise, were insufferable. He sighed. They made him sigh. It was not precisely that they were boring, but more that they caused the expansion of time, so that every second, every moment, swelled to infinity.


Blogger Make!Do! said...

Worst.Book.Ever. And she is a usually okay writer but man, you are a champion - I gave up after a couple of chapters. I think the quote on the flyleaf said sexiest book ever and it was so so unsexy.

June 21, 2008 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Make!Do! said...

Oh my God _ i just looked up my review on Goodreads of this book and look at this:
"I kept giving this book one more chapter, another 2o pages and finally at 150 pages I decided life was just too short and stopped reading. A clutter of uncompelling characters I couldn't keep straight. An unrealistic screenplay like "oh what a coincidence" semblance of a plot. The absolute most heavy-handed use of the Iraq War as heavy meaningful event. Just...wrong and clumsy and amateurish. Like the film "The Anniversary Party" in theme and execution but unbelievably, a hundred times more awkward. ..."

Ha! The Anniversary Party came up for me too. And I guess I read more than I thought I did.

June 21, 2008 at 7:06 PM  
Anonymous bellcurves said...

oh no, that's too bad! what a shame, b/c i always liked jane smiley's older works. in fact, it was in one of my favorite classes at MHC (chr!s benfey's american lit III!) that i was first introduced to smiley thru "ordinary love and good will" (very good!). "a thousand acres" and "moo" were decent too. anwyay, good for you for being such a trooper and sticking around to the end. i guess this is one i won't be picking up from the library.

June 22, 2008 at 4:55 PM  

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