Hour 24

October 25, 2009 at 4:40 am | Posted in Book Blather, Challenges | 11 Comments

I did it!  I finished The Recognitions in under 24 hours, with about 40 minutes to spare!  Here is a sly quote from William Gaddis, evidently describing the diametric opposite of his own work:

It was written with reassuring felicity.  There were no abstrusely long sentences, no confounding long words, no bewildering metaphors in an obfuscated system such as he feared finding in simply bound books of thoughts and ideas.

I thought I’d be able to read this book at 50 pages an hour.  But the page format, margins, and font size are similar to Ulysses and The Kindly Ones – big blocks of solid text in tiny print with little space between the lines.  I’m looking at Her Fearful Symmetry right now and it literally looks like it has half the text per page – or less.  I guarantee I could have read another very long book, maybe by Diana Gabaldon, in significantly less time.

Anyway, I did what I set out to do.  I stayed awake for 24 hours and read a notoriously difficult novel.  If I had tackled this book the way I normally do, it would have taken me nearly a week to read.  I’m pretty thrilled that I was able to knock down a challenge book in this way.  The other advantage is that I was able to keep track of the plot and characters more easily – over a period of days they wouldn’t be quite so fresh, you know?

Ordinarily I would finish out the hour – 25 minutes more – in reading something.  But I’ve been nodding off periodically since 3:00 and I just want to floss and go to bed.  Thanks for cheering, everybody, and I hope you all had fun!


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  1. Looks like you enjoyed a fun readathon. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

  2. That last hour has come and gone! I had a fab time, and I’m glad you did too.

  3. Congrats! Finishing The Recognitions at any point is an accomplishment, never mind within a 24-hour span!

  4. Congratulations. You deserve the read-a-thon grand prize for accomplishing such a feat.

  5. I can’t believe you were able to concentrate on one, complicated book for so long, I’m very impressed! Did you really read on the treadmill?

    • I refuse to use the treadmill without a book. I read on the elliptical trainer and the stairstepper, too. (I have a small, cheap, portable stairstepper at home that I also used for the read-a-thon).

  6. Kudos to you! I never could have focused on one book the entire time!

  7. Congratulations on finishing the book! I hadn’t heard of it before, but was stunned at it’s size when I looked it up on amazon.

  8. I’m stunned into silence. And proud of you.

  9. As a Gaddis reader, and fan, I’m very happy you had such an entertaining book to occupy your 24 hours. Did you laugh? Did you like party scenes? It’s not the usual challenge, so congratulations for it. What’s your next self-assigned book? _Women and Men_ by Joseph McElroy?

    • I did laugh, and I absolutely loved the party scenes. I hadn’t heard of McElroy, so thank you for the recommendation. My next read-a-thon book will probably also be something lengthy, but I’m not sure what it will be yet. Six months is a v e r y long time for my TBR list.

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