The Boretress Of Slowitude

Have any of you read this? I’m 67 pages in and still as bored as I was on page 1, which is to say: totally.

I even brought the book on our weekend trip to KL, hoping that an aggregate of 10 coach hours with nothing else to do would force me to keep going until a switch magically flipped and I finally realized why the novel is apparently a “great daredevil ride” (The Times, according to the back cover). Alas, no – every time I tried to make any progress, I’d get bored after a few pages and doze off, snooze for a few minutes and then wake up again due to coach discomfort or noisy kids. Rinse and repeat, 5 hours each way.

I don’t understand how the same author who delighted me with Motherless Brooklyn’s pace, plot and humour could have birthed this tedious turd. The writing is as competent and assured as you can expect from Jonathan Lethem, but he’s taken something that could be so engaging – the ’70s childhood of a white boy in a gradually gentrifying Brooklyn neighbourhood – and sucked all the life out of it, then spat out the flavourless remains into 67 pages (so far) of carefully penned but stupefyingly dull observations. It’s like seeing graffiti in greyscale.

In my younger more pretentious days I might have stuck with this because it is Worthy by many accounts, but I now feel no compunction in giving it up. More good books exist than I will ever be able to finish reading in my lifetime, and thousands of those will reward the intelligent, thoughtful and reasonably patient reader more than this one did. I’m moving on. What have you read and enjoyed recently?


  1. No surprises that my reading material tends to revolve around foooooood and more food, but I recently read Service Included, which was quite an interesting insight into the front of house at Per Se (Thomas Keller’s NYC restaurant). I’m currently halfway through The Zen of Fish and while there are some interesting historical nuggets about the origins of sushi and the various changes it went through to become what we know it as today, it’s otherwise fairly dull. Anyway, I shan’t bore you anymore. If you do want to read some food books, let me know and I can email you some recommendations!

  2. Haha, yes, no surprises. I haven’t ventured into the world of food writing beyond Kitchen Confidential and am generally still quite a food pleb, so in order for me to enjoy a food book it would probably have to be quite gimmicky and sensationalist! Any recommendations along those lines? :D

  3. My favourite food related book is Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. It’s a very entertaining story about the filthy goings on in high class restaurants.

    Meadhbh gave me a book the other day called Mr. Nice which is about a criminal called Howard Marks. It’s all about trying to smuggle dope into Ireland, Canada and the US. When he gets caught he gets a load of law books and constructs these incredibly ridiculous legal defences. It’s hilarious and I read the entire thing in one sitting which means it was either really good or I was really trying not to study.

    Reminded me alot of another book I read years ago called If Your Not In Bed By 10, Come Home! by Martin Bengtisson. Sort of a Papillion kind of style to it.

  4. Have been meaning to read Down and Out in Paris and London for ages, thanks for reminding me. Will put it on my library list.

    Mr Nice was a fixture in many of my university friends’ bedrooms but it never occurred to me to read it because I assumed it was just about being high.

    Will look up the third book too – thanks for all these recommendations James, they sound good. More interesting than the endless bread books your brother’s been reading anyway. :)

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