Thursday, 8 December 2011
The very first meeting.
For a very long time I have been moaning and groaning about wanting to be in a book club. Eventually, I did the sensible thing and started my own. Officially, there are three other members, but I'm not sure that everyone read the first book so it was just two of us at our first meeting.
Our first book? The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Seeing that my friend Ellen and I decided that we had to dress and eat to the theme of the book, we made ourselves fancy and went to the nicest looking restaurant that we could afford. We tucked into tempura mushrooms. We talked. Eventually, we even discussed the book.
Ellen: So, what did you think?
Emily: Uh, I didn't really, uh, I hated it.
Ellen: Oh, thank God. Me too.
We thought it was clunky, boring, pretentious and offensive. The story didn't flow, the events seemed pretty random and the five or so pages in which Dorian is reading about excess and youth and whatnot just about made Ellen throw the book across the room (apparently the only thing that stopped her was the fact that it was my book). The characters were distinctly unlikeable and even allowing for the time we found that the attitudes towards women were almost painful - it was very much a men's club and I wish Wilde would just come out and flippin' tell us about Dorian's big old crush on Lord Henry. The storyline was predictable and the 'dark' themes boring. We were unsure of Oscar Wilde's views on Dorian as he was treated quite gently despite being a hideous soul. No, death isn't enough for us. If you're going to be dark, authors, we want you to go all the way. "Give me more gory details," as Ellen said.
What confused us the most was the amount of people we had talked to who had adored it. We don't feel that we missed the point (pleasures in life are temporary, beauty is fleeting, etc.) and it is not as though we are not used to reading classics or literature in a similar style. We just plain didn't like it.
Rechristening the story The Picture That's Boring and Gray, we drank cocktails and thanked the universe that we don't have to read it again.