Book Senses

I’ve often listened to a song on the radio and thought, “if it had different lyrics, this would be an awesome song”. Maybe it was the beat, or a particular line, or even guitar lick, but something caught my ear and those songs stuck with me even when I cringed at the lyrics.

The same thing happens with TV shows or movies. The premise catches my attention, or a particular character stands out, even when the acting or writing should have driven me away.

In both instances I’m left with an appreciation for said song/show/movie. Sometimes, if enough time passes, they become classics that I remember fondly or perhaps time taints my perspective with a rosy hue.

The question I ask you is; is there such thing as an after taste for all things literary?

I recently read The Great Gatsby. Not by choice, but as part of an assignment. I won’t lie to you and say I didn’t struggle through it. Now that’s not to say I think it should lose its place as a classic, all I’m saying is that for my taste, I found it slow.

The funny thing is, once I finished it, I kept thinking back to it. It was like an after taste, or as they say in the wine circles, it had a good finish. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

Was it particularly deep? No, not really.

Was it bursting its covers with action, sex and car chases? Nope… ok, there was a car chase and implications of sex but that’s about it.

It was a study of character. Of the foibles of being human and dealing with humans and I think what stayed with me was the narrator’s voice throughout. Now some say the narrator is unreliable in The Great Gatsby, but it think his voice was, quite often, the voice of reason, the voice of conscience. In fact Nick Carraway can be seen as Jay Gatsby’s Jimminy Cricket.

Gatsby’s voice was unreliable. Well, now that I think of it, I don’t think even he was overly unreliable. He never told the complete story, but I’m not convinced he ever lied, at least not to Nick.

That said, have you, dear readers, ever had a book or song that stuck with you, long after it was done? That struck a chord, so to speak? Something that didn’t appeal to you at first but with time developed into an “after-read glow”?

Let me know. Song or book and while you are at it, head over to the Reading as Writers website for a cool discussion on music and books with facilitator, Tobin Elliot.

About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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9 Responses to Book Senses

  1. Interesting question. I have to say that happens often with movies that start out slow and my husband yawns, but we get into it and end up saying what a great work it is. In our fast-paced, 6 jolts per minute world we miss a lot if we don’t slow down and savour both the experience and, as you so eloquently put it, the aftertaste. (Can you tell I’m in California wine country with those references?)

    • Dale Long says:

      Exactly! The saying “slow down and smell the roses” is so over used and yet so valid. Have fun slowing down and smelling the bouquet, the wine’s bouquet that is 😉

  2. Diane Dooley says:

    I think my best example of the “glow” that you speak of is when I read Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ for the first time. I think I was eighteen or nineteen. I finished it in the early hours of the morning after a very lengthy reading session. The ‘glow’ (which wasn’t a particularly pleasant sensation – more like shell shock *grin*) was so powerful, I stared at the front cover for a minute or so, then turned to the first page and immediately started reading it again. I’d never done that before and I’ve never done it since.

    • Dale Long says:

      I think it’s the subtlety in which they tell the story that sneaks up and grabs you. Not that Nabokov was overly subtle. If The Police sing about him and that book in particular, I feel I should read it.
      Thanks Diane, yet another book on my overflowing “to read” mountain.

  3. For me, the book is Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. It’s a slow, contemplative book, with many sideroads. On the surface, it’s the story of Robert and his son traveling through America on motorcycles. It’s also about the quest to define quality. But underneath, there are so many nuanced layers.

    I rarely read a book more than once, but this is one I’ve now read four times, and each time I pull more from it. Funny, for a book that I initially finished and thought, “meh.”

    • Dale Long says:

      It’s exactly those books that initially leave a “meh” feeling that I’m talking about. Ones that need time for their message to percolate and perforate our subconscious.

  4. I’ve read quite a few books that were ok while I read them but later bloomed in my memory. I’ve also read many a “sexy” book–the one you turn page and page in a frenzy to see what happens next…but then a couple of days after “the end” you can’t really remember it all that well. (Or maybe I’m just getting old.) But anyway, one of the “bloomers” was the first Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews. Compared to later books, the first in the series wasn’t all that great…but the world “they” created was absolutely amazing. I teetered at the edge of not continuing the series but did anyway and am very glad I did so.

    • Dale Long says:

      Sexy comes in a book? I always thought it was in magazines. Not that I would know… What? It’s for research… 🙂
      Good on you for sticking with the series. Sometimes the premise or the “world” is so strong a reader will often overlook poor execution, or at least I think so.

      • I guess I really meant a “one night stand” book (ooh, play on words–one nightstand book or one night stand book…never mind it seemed brilliant before I typed it out). LOL I’ve been writing too much erotic romance lately, can you tell? Time to get back to the YA methinks.

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