While waiting for a top-secret, aka public, meeting of the New York Inquirer to begin, I cruised the Barnes and Noble a block away. It was raining, so I took my sweet time checking out the staff recommendations on the first floor (the escalator was out). On each shelf — fiction, non-fiction, classics, New York, "interesting," etc. — I saw two or three books that I have read.
My responses intrigued me. For instance, I saw The Effect of Living Backwards by Heidi Julavits, a book I did not enjoy while I read it - but its themes are burnt into my head. I also saw two David Sedaris books, Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day, books I remember loving, but I can't recall a single episode from either of them. Sedaris may be a bad example, because his writing is purposely disposable, but what to make of Julavits? My experience with her book is almost the opposite of what I'm going through now with The Great American Novel. For whatever reason, I'm kind of having a rough go with it, but I only have good things to say about it, whereas I plowed through TEOLB despite my disdain for a lot of what was going on. The tricky part is that I remember a lot of it, and I would say it's a good book if you want to see the effects of shame. In some ways, it's kind of like Anchorman. I like quoting Anchorman, but I've never found it particularly funny when I watch it. That's obviously a strike against it, but with its sticking power, how big of a strike is it?