January 24, 2004

Comfort Reading

The estimable Terry Teachout has just posted on the subject of comfort books, and not for the first time I wish he allowed comments on his blog.

He mentions a number of my favorites, including Patrick O'Brian and P.G. Wodehouse, though he says he doesn't like Wodehouse' short stories as well as his novels. I have to question whether he's ever read "Uncle Fred Flits By", one of the best (perhaps the best) comic short story I've ever read. And he mentions a number of other authors I might take a chance on.

But the one that floored me was Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time. I've heard lots of people rave about it, but I read the first three books (it's a twelve-novel cycle) and frankly I can't see it. The narrator is a non-entity, a mere observer, and the folks he's observing are simply not that interesting. It's the Eight Deadly Words: I Don't Care About Any Of These People.

So tell me, Terry--what's the attraction?

Posted by Will Duquette at January 24, 2004 07:10 PM