THE LIST OF BETTERMENT
For a while during the my year of Dangerous Reading, I kept a blog called The List of Betterment. It petered out after a few months because I was spending too much time thinking about what to write on the blog and too little actually reading the books the blog was supposed to be about.
Originally I planned that these excerpts would appear in The Year of Reading Dangerously. In the event we cut them from the finished book, mostly for reasons of pace. They were meant to bridge the chapters about Dickens, Mantel and The Diary of a Nobody on one side and The Silver Surfer and Julian Cope on the other. Anyway, if you want to know what I actually thought about The Epic of Gilgamesh, Philip Roth, On the Road and a dozen or so more, here they all are.
One thing: I blogged under the name ‘Leonard Bast’, who is of course the uncouth, jumped-up clerk in E.M. Forster’s Howards End. At the novel’s conclusion, Bast is crushed beneath the weight of a falling bookshelf and his pretentious literary ambitions.
Do you see what E.M. Forster and I did there??
Over to ‘Leonard’…
Hello, and welcome to my blog – the List of Betterment!
My name is Leonard Bast. I live in the south of England with my wife and son in a house. Likes: books, jam doughnuts, the Kinks. Dislikes: football, cars, the novels of W. Somerset Maugham.
In November last year, I began a small but ambitious experiment: to work my way through a dozen or so books I had always meant to read but had never got round to, owing to idleness, apathy or lack of confidence. Not that this ever stopped me from pretending to have read them! LOL!!!
Anyway, here is that original list:
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Post Office – Charles Bukowski
The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressell
The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
The Unnamable – Samuel Beckett
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky – Patrick Hamilton
Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
I finished that lot in about three months, quite an achievement when you hold down a full-time job and are trying to raise a young family, like what I do. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to extend the list to fifty books and give myself until November 24th this year to read them all – one year to the day since I embarked on the original List of Betterment. I have started this blog so I can share my thoughts on all the books I read this year, plus anything else that springs to mind. I hope you’ll join me!
Today is Day 1 of reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
God is a woman, and she wants me to read Jane Eyre.
Last week, I finished Vanity Fair by Thackeray and was wondering where to go next. There was an article in the paper about reading habits and Jane Eyre was mentioned as many women’s favourite book. (Men nominated The Outsider by Camus and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Márquez). Then, on Saturday, my friend Penny asked if I was going to attempt Jane Eyre, because it was one of her favourite books, and her (all-female) book group had just done it. So I was flicking through Jane Eyre, umm-ing and err-ing, when I noticed that Charlotte Brontë dedicates the book to… William Makepeace Thackeray. So mote it be!
Today is Day 2 of reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Children in mortal peril, beatings and punishments, strict religious dogma: based on the first hundred pages, Jane Eyre is a period misery memoir, although in all likelihood Dave Pelzer never uses words like ‘hierophant’, ‘deglutition’ or ‘contumelious’ i.e. ‘he pushed her away with some contumelious epithet.’ This reminds me of a true story about the British girls’ comic Tammy in the 1970s. Their most popular serial ever was called ‘Slaves of War Orphan Farm’ because, according to the editor, it was exactly what the comic’s young female readers wanted to read – tales of orphans who were kept as slaves on a farm during a war. Some things you never grow out of.
Today is Day 3 of reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
What would happen to the Brontë sisters today on the evidence of their novels alone? Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall make a compelling case for a dawn raid on Haworth Parsonage by North Yorkshire social services.
Today is Day 4 of reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Today is Charlotte Brontë’s 193rd birthday. Had she lived, she would have been very old.
Today is Day 8 of reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Finished Jane Eyre this morning. A dramatic, elemental and weird book, which still has the power to shock. I wish to draw your attention to the character of Mr. Rochester, one of the great romantic heroes of English literature. What type of a man is he?
Edward Rochester is generally arrogant, surly, foul-tempered and strikingly “ugly” – not my word but that of Jane Eyre, who cannot stop going on about it. At the time the events of the book take place, Jane is barely eighteen; Rochester is nearly forty. He has had a string of mistresses, of which he says he repents (but he would say that, wouldn’t he?). He may or may not have had a child, Adele, with one of them. He leads another local woman, Blanche Ingram, to believe he is seeking to marry her, without having any intention of doing so. Such caddishness is just for starters.
Rochester keeps his first wife Bertha – who is clinically insane – locked in a room in his attic, in the care of a negligent and alcoholic nurse. In order to uncover Jane’s true feelings for him, he dresses up in women’s clothing as a gypsy and pretends to tell her fortune. He withholds all the stuff about the mistresses and the crazy woman in the attic, even when the crazy woman a) tries to burn him alive in his bed, b) stabs her own brother and c) creeps into Jane’s room with the intention of attacking her. Still he says nothing. Instead, after the attempted fratricide, he makes Jane mop up the blood. Rochester then attempts to lead this same ignorant and sheltered eighteen year old into bigamy. On her wedding day, the ceremony is disrupted in the most humiliating manner imaginable. Only at this point does Rochester see fit to disclose to her the truth about the mistresses, the brother, the locked-up lunatic wife etc. He then suggests that, instead of getting married, they abscond to the continent and live together in sin. When Jane bravely says no, he threatens her with violence.
They decide to spend some time apart.
Happily for all concerned, Bertha breaks free of the attic again, starts another fire and leaps to her death. It is implied that the mad woman was syphilitic all along. So maybe Rochester is too. After the fire and his first wife’s suicide, one of the great romantic heroes of English literature ends the novel as a broken, one-armed blind man with undiagnosed syphilis and an innocent new wife i.e. Jane Rochester née Eyre.
These are just some of the qualities that have commended this total contumelious epithet to generations of female readers.
Philip Roth: an apology
I am reading Everyman, a novella by Philip Roth. This will be the fifth of Roth’s books I have read in full. However, there are several acquaintances of mine who are under the impression I have read every word the great man has written since Sabbath’s Theater in 1995. They are under this impression because I LIED to them.
The worst example of this LYING would be to my friend Alan. I recommended American Pastoral to him despite having got no further than page 50 or thereabouts. Alan took me at my word. He read American Pastoral from cover to cover and thought it was superb. Then he read I Married a Communist and thought that was superb too. What did you think? he asked. Oh yes, I replied, magnificent. But I had not managed more than fifty pages of I Married a Communist either. The relentless excellence of the prose was exhausting.
As time has gone on, I have compounded the original offence over and over again. Every time Philip Roth publishes a new novel, Alan and I discuss it. Sometimes I have read the book, sometimes not. On the occasions when I have, I remind myself to compare it only with the books I have actually read, for fear of being caught out in my shameful LIES, not wanting Alan to find out either that I bullshitted him about American Pastoral and I Married a Communist or that I am still bullshitting him a bit even when telling the truth, and so I overcompensate by extravagantly praising Roth’s every paragraph, semi-colon and full stop. Gosh, I think as I hear myself enthuse and dissemble, I love Philip Roth!
Alan, I am sorry. Today the LYING stops.
(And sorry to Paul for making you read all 650 pages of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, which I believe I said was “incredible”, despite not having read even one of those pages, although in my defence I had read the cover. Fortunately you liked the book. At least you said you did. Maybe you hated it and didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Or maybe you were lying too. I understand. It is a very long book).
So, for the record, here are the Philip Roth books I usually say I’ve read, followed by the TRUTH.
Portnoy’s Complaint – yes. In 1990. Didn’t really understand it.
Sabbath’s Theater – no. But Mrs. Bast has read it. I base my opinion on hers.
American Pastoral – first 50 pages. Incredible.
I Married a Communist – first 50 pages. Incredible, monotonous.
The Human Stain – yes. This actually is one of the finest novels I have read in recent years, perhaps the best. The confrontation on the frozen lake near the end of the book is exemplary in its craft, unpredictable five pages before it occurs yet thematically inevitable and utterly satisfying once it has happened, and I am not just saying that to prove I finished The Human Stain. But I did and it is.
The Dying Animal – very short, so polished this one off no trouble. Can’t remember anything about it though.
The Plot against America – curate’s egg, but one I consumed whole. Essentially a highbrow’s episode of The Outer Limits. Told people I liked it more than I actually did in order to appear consistent.
Exit Ghost – no. Definitely will though.
I do love Philip Roth. But as Jane Eyre will tell you, love can be ugly.
Also, must try and keep these entries shorter.
Philip Roth: another apology
I would like to apologise for the appalling narcissism of the previous post, unless that’s what blogs are for and why people like them. I’m really not sure.
Today is Day 2 of reading: Everyman by Philip Roth.
Everyman – yes. A great book? No. A small book by a great writer.
No one constructs sentences like Roth. They need to be read and re-read for their rhythm and their absolute confidence. I say this with the oft-expressed misgivings about his characters’ view of women. There is an outrageous line in this book about there being little more to the protagonist’s third wife than her asshole, the asshole she gladly offers him for sex; less, in fact. Less to her than her own asshole! But if you took out the streak of misogyny and the unquenchable libido, you wouldn’t have Philip Roth – a recklessly honest, semantically fastidious and unrepentantly dirty old genius.
Note to self: when this is all over, finish American Pastoral.
Next: Absolute Beginners, followed by One Hundred Years of Solitude. Looking forward to it.
Today is Day 3 of reading: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
Today is my 39th birthday. If I live another year, I shall be very old.
The opposite of word-of-mouth recommendation.
After Don Quixote and Beyond Black, I had been planning to try Lampedusa’s The Leopard. But this morning some over-opinionated fathead in the newspaper – a regular columnist – announced that he will be taking The Leopard to the beach this year, as he does ‘every summer’. ‘One of the most evocative, poignant, elegiac and melancholic portraits of lost love and lost values, and much shorter than Anna Karenina,’ notes this paid-by-the-adjective windbag. This has put me right off The Leopard. Am I the only one who gets infuriated by this sort of self-regarding culture-bragging?
Decide to read The Epic of Gilgamesh instead.
I am aware there is some irony at work here but I prefer not to put my finger on it.
Today is Day 1 of reading: The Epic of Gilgamesh.
‘Gilgamesh is the first work of world literature and remains one of the most important. Written in ancient Mesopotamia in the second millennium BC, it predates the Iliad by roughly 1000 years. Lost for almost two millennia, the eleven clay tables (sic. This is a misprint; they mean ‘tablets’) on which the epic was inscribed were discovered in 1850 in the ruins of Nineveh, and the text was not deciphered and fully translated until the end of the century.’
The historical importance of Gilgamesh is obvious but that it is not why I wanted to read it. It was the favourite book of a man I used to work with at a bookshop in Earl’s Court in London. His name was David and he was, and still is, an artist; I heard him on the radio recently discussing his latest sound-piece. He answered James Naughtie’s questions with the same seething politeness with which he handled customers in the shop and also most of his colleagues. He acquired titles for the Art section; other than that, he preferred to stay off the shop floor and spend his time in the stock room, unpacking new books and, three months later, returning those same books to their publishers – our branch was more an outpost of empire than a going concern. David was both charismatic and intimidating. In addition to Gilgamesh, he was also an advocate of, variously: expensive black t-shirts from stylish boutiques (as opposed to the cheap ones from Camden market I wore); vintage medical slides of hermaphrodites, amputees etc., which he would flick through during tea-breaks, laughing quietly to himself; the concept albums of Laurie Anderson; photographic portraits by Joel-Peter Witkin, decadent tableaux composed of severed body parts, fat women knocking nails into their own heads etc.; drinking beer in the pub after work; Polaroid photographs of ironing boards, in use or propped up in repose, which he intended to publish in a book, a high quality cloth-bound limited edition of one (I hope he did this); and the novel Moby-Dick.
David liked Moby-Dick a lot. Did I first try to read it to get in with him? Probably. Of course I never finished it; it was only recently, at the fourth attempt, I made it past the first few chapters (see blog entry for April 15th for confirmation). But I nodded along in the pub and got my round in.
At this time, one of our co-workers was a chap called Mike, the singer in a band called the Becketts. At David’s urging, Mike read Moby-Dick straight through, no trouble. In fact, he was so taken with the book, the Becketts recorded a song about it on their second album Myth. The song was called ‘The Whiteness of the Whale’ and it ingeniously condensed 600 pages of Melville’s prose-poetry and cetological symbolism into three and a half indie-rockin’ minutes. The chorus went:
“Ship to shore!
What Ahab saw
Before it drooowned him!”
Ingenious and catchy too.
Anyway, Gilgamesh. I don’t remember exactly what it was David – never Dave – liked so much about Gilgamesh but I know it was the first time I had ever heard of the book; reading it now, fifteen years later, is probably another belated attempt to get in with him. David, I am actually reading it: I owe you a pint, it’s astonishing. If I were to condense it in song, the chorus would go like this:
God or flesh
You’re only huuuuman!
(Which, if you don’t know what happens in Gilgamesh, is really ingenious, believe me.)
Today is Day 2 of reading: The Epic of Gilgamesh.
From Gilgamesh, the key to happiness, the meaning of life:
‘Humans are born, they live, then they die,
this is the order that the gods have decreed.
But until the end comes, enjoy your life,
spend it in happiness, not despair.
Savour your food, make each of your days
a delight, bathe and anoint yourself,
wear bright clothes that are sparkling clean,
let music and dancing fill your house,
love the child who holds you by the hand,
and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.’
Those words were written four thousand years ago. Is this the wisdom of the ancients? Or the sort of self-help guff you get on the back of a packet of herbal remedy? Try Gilgamesh – now available in tablets.
Thinking about heading over to Broadstairs next weekend for Dickens festival. Anyone going?
Today is Day 1 of reading: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Another novel about poverty: the effects of poverty and the fear of falling into poverty. Of the thirty-two books so far completed on the List of Betterment, nearly half have had poverty as a central or significant theme.
The modern novel, by which I mean the post-war Western intellectual novel, is shaped therefore as much by the development of ideas, modernism, post-modernism etc. as by finally not having to worry where the next meal is coming from – arguably for the first time in history, or at least in the history of the novel. And freed from the burden of debt, hardship, hunger etc. what, who does the modern novel produce?
Ignatius J. Reilly.
Today is Day 15 of reading: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Philip Roth: “To read a novel requires a certain amount of devotion to the reading. If you read a novel in more than two weeks you don’t read the novel really.”
Today is Day 21 of reading: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
‘High summer can be pitiless to the low-spirited.’ I Capture the Castle, pg. 308.
First, let me apologise for the break in communications. A stressful family holiday and an employment crisis intervened, both resolved amicably. Plus it has been hot. If it isn’t raining I find it hard to concentrate.
So it took me three weeks to finish I Capture the Castle, which diluted the pleasure I was able to take in the book; a shame, I probably should have waited for a less turbulent moment. The story follows a girl’s progress from late childhood to the woebegone world of grown-ups, 1930’s bohemia on its uppers, stately homes without heating or much food. The tone lies somewhere between Noel Streatfield and Nancy Mitford – waspishly jolly, with little jolts of sadness. Funny too. Cassandra’s step-mother Topaz is melodramatic and flighty but we are allowed to see that she is also perceptive and caring; her father is shown to be in the grip of a devastating writers’ block, an all-encroaching failure of nerve which has lasted for years. He is both irresponsible and helpless. Actually, I cannot recall ever reading such a compassionate and adult depiction of writers’ block in a novel. Cassandra’s solution may be childish but it does capture the castle. She locks her father in his tower; he is furious with her; but once he starts to write, he does not want to come down.
Many women read I Capture the Castle at an impressionable age and never forget it. Says J.K. Rowling: “This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met.” Dodie Smith’s best-known work is One Hundred and One Dalmatians, so it wasn’t long ago that I Capture the Castle sat alongside that book in the children’s section. However, now grown-ups openly read children’s books in public – Harry Potter, Philip Pullman, Tove Jansson – I surmise that Rowling quote has been put on the front cover to appeal to adult readers, not children. A marketing department using its powers for good for once; this is a fully grown novel which should be read by fully grown women. And even men.
Picking up the pace tomorrow.
Today is Day 1 of reading: The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Sped through The Leopard in a day. Enjoyed it. If pushed, I would describe it as melancholic, elegiac, poignant and evocative. Might read it every summer, if only to find out if any of it has sunk in.
Today is Day 1 of reading: Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry.
From the back cover: ‘It is the fiesta Day of Death in Mexico and Geoffrey Firmin – ex-consul, ex-husband, an alcoholic and a ruined man – is living out the last day of his life. Drowning himself in mescal while his former wife and half-brother look on, powerless to help him, the consul is an enduring tragic figure and his story, the image of one man’s agonized journey towards Calvary.’
Not a comedy, then; need I say I am looking forward to this one?
Today is Day 12 of reading: Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry.
‘Somebody threw a dead dog after him down the ravine.’
So we bid farewell to the picturesque Mexican town of Parián and its dipsomaniac expats, murdering banditos and symbolic dead dogs, where the tropical firmament is always tempestuous and the mescal flows like the blood of Christ at Golgotha. Haste ye back!
A date at the book fête.
Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. The Edinburgh International Book Festival. Someone once said that compared to the electrifying carnival of the Fringe, the Book Festival is a coconut shy. Gardens and marquees throng with the sort of people who feel guilty when they watch TV. All ages represented, gentlemen and ladies in equal number, though few black or Asian faces.
On Saturday morning, I attend a sell-out performance by Albanian dissident novelist Ismael Kadare and his translator David Bellos. Although the event is billed as a discussion, it is obviously rehearsed; they seem to be reading from a script. Five different company logos are visible on or around the stage where the gurus sat. “How does a book make you feel?” enquires a Royal Bank of Scotland banner. “Heartbroken. Moved. Spellbound. Captivated. Inspired. Angry! Sad. Happy:). Nervous. Shocked!”
On this occasion, none of the above. It is a curiously unenlightening hour and lousy theatre as well. Kadare seems content to offer a précis of himself in line with what the crowd has paid to see: an important man, earnest, wry, modest in assessment of his own achievements. Really though, he gives nothing away. Bellos feeds him the prompts and Kadare delivers his lines and does his best impersonation – himself. On the Fringe, their act would die on its arse.
I cannot blame Kadare. All writers need strategies when it comes to doing promotion, even those in line for the Nobel Prize for Literature. And there is no doubt ticket-holders went away satisfied, delighted to have passed an hour in the presence of a great man. It reminded me of the high point of a Kraftwerk concert – I like Kraftwerk – when the audience roars its approval for the robot dummies the group has sent out in its place. Perhaps the real Kadare was at home in Albania, working, while this Kadare went out on a European tour to meet its public; perhaps David Bellos needed to be there to operate the controls. Alternatively, perhaps Ismael Kadare, the real one, likes being applauded. Perhaps he’s only human.
Mrs Bast: “It’s alright, you’re allowed to be melodramatic on the blog.”
I know I said this before but I really do need to keep these entries shorter. Don’t know how Pooter kept it up.
Today is Day 2 of reading: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.
An amazing book; the story of the woman who becomes Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre, the madwoman Mr. Rochester keeps locked in the attic of Thornfield Hall, told both from her perspective and his. Fortunately Jane Eyre is still fresh in my mind. If Wide Sargasso Sea only functioned as a prelude, it would be a considerable technical achievement: the narrative voices are forceful and convincing. But there seems to be so much more to it than that. It is about colonialism and empire, gender and power; it is also about the way those subjects find expression in literature. It is oblique, experimental and deeply felt. It is so beautifully written and so full of pain.
I hesitate to say any more about Wide Sargasso Sea. It is such a deep book that, actually, I don’t want to write about it all, at least not here; I simply want to soak in it a little longer. This is the limit of the blog process for me. It took Jean Rhys twenty-five years to form an appropriate response to Jane Eyre and when she did, it was not as a first impression or a string of jokes. What can I add in a day?
Note to self and others: read Wide Sargasso Sea but please keep your opinions to yourself until you know what they are.
Today is Day 6 of reading: On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
“We don’t have to drive across America to achieve our inner self.” Julian Cope
‘Cult’ books again. As you may have noticed, I am down in the cult ghetto at the moment. I just finished On the Road and before that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. After a break for Paradise Lost, it’s American Psycho and The Dice Man next. I am methodically corrupting myself, twenty years too late.
As I’ve noted here before, there is a big pile of teenage books I never bothered with when I was a teenager because they seemed too obvious and too prescribed. This would include a lot of American writing e.g. Bukowski, Heller, Thompson, Burroughs and especially Kerouac. What did these famous junkies, Death-dwarves and Americans have to say to straight-assed English me? Not much, I suspected. On the evidence of On the Road, my instincts were correct. It started off OK but after Day 1, the Road got rough and led nowhere.
“It’s not my fault! It’s not my fault!” I told him. “Nothing in this lousy world is my fault, don’t you see that? I don’t want it to be and it can’t be and it won’t be.” Pg. 201
On the Road is a paean to unfettered selfishness and male ego, suffused with toddlerish petulance and a love of cars and fear of women which would embarrass a Top Gear presenter. Some neat-o riffs and percussionistic prose but mostly just a lot of driving and drinking and repetition and drinking. In the course of the novel, Dean Moriarty sires four children and marries three women and every one of these broken lives supposedly represents a defeat for poor old Dean, who only ever wants to be free, man, yass, yass, yass. Several times we are told he moves around a room ‘like Groucho Marx’; I’d have liked him more if he made like Harpo and SHUT UP, YOU TEDIOUS PRICK.
I saw a documentary on TV a while ago about Andy Warhol. Warhol’s work was presented as a provocatively fey and truly rebellious response to the suffocating expressionist conformity of the art scene of the 1950s, the sweaty, grunting muscularity of Pollock, Johns etc. Art need not be torn from the soul or the hetero libido, said Warhol; art can be merely pretty or mass-produced or all surface. It need not be a monument to its maker’s ego. On the Road is the literary equivalent of the stuff Warhol was trying to get away from, Johnny Cash to his Velvet Underground.
You know, this is a whole lot more fun when you don’t like the book. How depressing.
This is not another book about poverty; it is a snapshot of a society that has more than it can handle. My copy has this William Burroughs quote on the back cover: “On the Road sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines … the alienation, the restlessness, the dissatisfaction were already there waiting when Kerouac pointed out the road.” That’s not a ringing endorsement, is it? But it is accurate. What this book did was substitute one myth of American freedom for another. It bred a new generation of consumers, fit and able to take over from their frustratingly thrifty parents, who had had to combat an economic depression and a real war, rather than choose to impose a simulacrum of those conditions on themselves for ‘kicks’. Their alienation, restlessness and dissatisfaction were soothed, contained, by Levis and espresso machines and an image of rebellion which has endured for fifty years – Dean Moriarty, James Dean, Holden Caulfield, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, Spider-Man – and been profitably exported across the globe in comics, cinema, rock’n’roll and ‘cult’ books, the same ‘cult’ books your grandparents read.
Time for something NEU!
Today is Day 1 of reading: Paradise Lost by John Milton.
This is getting ridiculous. Paradise Lost is clearly going to be a challenge. After work and family, there is so little time. I can utilise it to read Paradise Lost or write about it, but not both. What I need is another me to update this blog. Maybe I could hire the Kadare-bot.
I am going to exercise some restraint and keep these entries much shorter, otherwise I won’t finish all the reading I still have to do. Will you miss me? Moi non plus.
Today is Day 12 of reading: Paradise Lost by John Milton.
Today is Day 4 of reading: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
Today is Day 1 of reading: The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart.
Mostly dreadful. Ugh.
Today is Day 3 of reading: The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart.
The Worst Sentence from the Worst Paragraph from the Worst Book on the List of Betterment, so far:
‘Three feet from me rocked two young men engaged in a passionate, deep-throated kiss. I felt as if I had been half-slammed, half-caressed in the belly with a slippery bagful of wet c**ts.‘
The Dice Man: please, please make it stop.