Whether it’s Christmas gifts or birthday presents, the hunt to find them has always been a lot of fun. But then the fun instantly stopped the moment the gifts were discovered (or at least I was convinced I had), the excitement replaced by a sense of guilt (I wasn’t supposed to find them) and disappointment (the new hunt wouldn’t be for another year).
These days I’m no longer hunting, instead I fish by asking questions about the possible gift. In return, I receive only cryptic answers that really could be about anything. The vagueness keeps me going, nurturing the hope that I might figure it out, and at the same the desire that I don’t.
It’s a bit contradicting.
It’s not just gifts; it’s also book reviews too. It’s exciting to read when there’s an article out on a book I want to read, yet there’s this hovering anxiety I might read too many details; or worse, explanations of what the story is aiming at. I don’t want to know, yet at the same time I want to know something.
So here’s what happened when Vanessa sent me a link about Kazuo Ishiguro’s new book release The Buried Giant in The New York Times. First I indulged in the joy of having yet another book I can soon add to my Tsundoko pile. And then I actually clicked on the link to the book review. This sounds simple, but it took me some time and going to the website was the beginning of my Hunt.
Skimming and Rereading
The opening paragraphs of a review are usually safe to read. I really appreciate the third paragraph in this one because it’s brutally honest. As a writer still at the beginning of discovering the joys and sorrows of getting published, it’s reassuring to read that writing and getting the manuscript published can take years – even when one is experienced.
Then the name of the new book is mentioned and that’s usually when I stop reading and start skimming through. I avoid plot giveaways, critical analysis on literary technique, or the writing style because I don’t want to know such things yet before I read the book myself.
If skimming doesn’t make any alarm bells go off, I read a bit more closely.
Curiosity and Killing Cats
Reading it this way takes time. But I hate feeling disappointed when I read things I don’t want to know. The worst thing is those details will pop up when I’m actually reading the book. I can’t stop them, they just show up and ruin the experience. And knowing too much destroys the joy of curiosity.
It’s like watching a movie adaption of your favourite book. Of course, the details will be different and that’s fine. After all, it’s just based on the book. I admire people who can actually pull that off, since what happens to me is that the deleted characters and missing plot lines haunt me.