David Malouf • An Imaginary Life

I try to be a generous reader but I have my limitations. Sometimes the way a novel is written annoys me so badly that I can’t see its merits. Every time I’ve opened up Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, for example, I’ve winced. I recognize many people love Infinite Jest, are deeply moved by it, and think it’s a classic, but it’s not for me.

Previously I would’ve just put the offending book down and never looked at it again, but I’m trying to teach myself to finish books. A book-loving friend said recently that she has been learn how to put a book down, that she doesn’t need to finish every book she starts. My problem has always been the opposite, putting down too many books. I’m trying to learn how to see the merits of a book even through my dislike of its style.

An Imaginary Life by David Malouf is one of those novels whose style rubbed me wrong in almost every conceivable way. Unfortunately, I couldn’t balance my dislike of its style with an appreciation of its content, because its content also disagreed with me.

So here’s a bit of 🔥

David Malouf, An Imaginary Life. 1978 novella about Ovid in exile. Not recommended.

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