“Unless” I’m Missing Something

The book I’m reading now is Carol Shields’ Unless, which I grabbed hurriedly while charging around a closing library. She’s quite a celebrated writer, and the book was nominated for prizes and shit.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“Tom has asked me once or twice what it is we talk about on Tuesday mornings, but I just shake my head. It’s too rich to describe, and too uneven. Chit-chat, some people call it. We talk about our bodies, our vanities, our dearest desires. Of course the three of them know all about Norah being on the street; they comfort me and offer concern. A phase, Annette believes. A breakdown, thinks Sally. Lynn is certain the cause is physiological, glandular, hormonal. They all tell me that I must not take Norah’s dereliction as a sign of my own failure as a mother, and this, though I haven’t acknowledged it before, is a profound and always lurking fear. More than a fear – I believe it.”

I think my extreme boredom with this book must be a sign of my failure as a woman. What do you think, should I keep trudging through the hormonal mire or just run for the hills?


  1. I’m judging an entire book by this sliver, but there’s nothing exciting about the prose from here. I say drop it!

  2. Maybe you have to be feeling moody and melodramatic in order to appreciate it. I bet if you read it whilst suffering extreme menstrual cramps, it would suddenly become absolutely riveting. Nothing makes the mind go more skewiff than putting on the hormonal goggles.

  3. Put on those running shoes… that made even me cringe, and the book I’m most excited about reading in my “pending” pile is belle du jour!

  4. Sounds quite blah to me, but then it does deal with motherhood, and pregnancy and childbirth sometimes seem like leading causes of insanity amongst women, so maybe if I had my head screwed up from having kids I would think different. One can only hope not.

  5. I read The Stone Diaries by the same author and wasn’t exactly thrilled by it. And it won the Pulitzer Prize too.

    Drop it lah. Working people have better things to spend their time on.

  6. i guess i’m the only one who actually likes the book. i read it, and i really did like it. but i don’t think it’s your cup of tea. so good luck with the new batch of books.

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