Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Prospero's Books by Lynda Waterhouse

So far I have only walked out on one film in my life. I have fallen asleep in the cinema on a couple occasions but that was during the second half of a double bill of Che and I was full to the brim of painkillers after breaking my wrist. I like to arrive in time for the adverts, the trailers and the film.
In 1988, though, I walked out of a showing of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I couldn’t stand it. If you ask me why I can’t say - I have sat through worse but there was something that afternoon about the way Daniel Day Lewis kept saying, ‘Take your clothes off’ in a cod Eastern European accent that got my goat and I was off. A few years later my friend Tracy Lee had a similar experience with the film Prospero’s Books. So from that day forward any film, book or art that provoked an immediate and irritated reaction in us was called a Prospero’s Book.
It is my literary shorthand for something that I can’t get on with.
On the other hand I have to shamefacedly confess that despite several attempts Keri Hulme’s Bone People remains a Prospero’s Book .I live in hope that one day I will get it. That my intellect will ripen and I will be able to read Ulysses, The Waves or embrace magical realism. All these failures loom large in my imagination.
Some happier developments from immediate reactions have included the following:
  • Making a lifelong friend after we discovered during our first conversation that we were both reading Miss Mole by EH Young;
  • Knowing that I would get on with my father-in-law because he loved the film Random Harvest;
  • Realising I could marry a man who liked Magazine’s Song from under the Floorboards as much as I did;
  • Being unable to stop myself smiling at strangers reading Norman Collins‘s London Belongs To Me or Patti Smith’s Just Kids.
  • What are your Prospero’s Books and have any books forged a friendship for you?


Catherine Butler said...

Cards on table - I loved Prospero's Books, though I can see how one might not. I even bought the book, ironically.

But I have a whole library of cast-aside books, many dented in one corner where they hit the mantelpiece. There are too many to list, but Bellow's Herzog has pride of place.

Sue Purkiss said...

Walked out of, or fell asleep in, Last Tango in Paris and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Many, many years ago.) Did read The Bone People. Tried and failed to read Ulysses many times. Don't like Joseph Conrad, even though I've tried several times.

Actually, I do find the Kindle's bad for encouraging me not to finish books. I've got several on there that I've 'put on one side' because they haven't held my interest and it's so easy to move on to something else.

JO said...

I loved The Bone People. But my Prospero's Book - Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad I couldn't work out what was going on, and it wasn't long before I didn't care!

And I, too, adandoned The Unbearable Lightness of Being, for the same reason.

Elen C said...

Oh, I loved Unbearable Lightness!
I've only walked out twice - Mission to Mars was just plain awful and Reservoir Dogs because of the audience reaction to the 'ear' scene...

Plenty of unfinished books, but I've only once thrown a book at a wall in frustration, which was John Fowles' The Magus. I sheepishly retrieved it and carried on reading later though.

diätplan said...

good comment.But I have a whole library of cast-aside

diätplan said...

good post

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