Sometimes, context is everythingI started reading Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping this week, but the first few chapters felt sluggish. I don't know if that was due to the writing style or my mood - probably both - but I seriously considered invoking the Page 50 Rule and abandoning the book when I reached that page. But this morning on the train, during heavy thunderstorms and with a view outside of torrents gushing down the hillsides and deep standing water, I read a vivid passage in which the author described heavy spring floods in the mountain town of Fingerbone. Robinson's makeshift family stoically retreats to their second floor, coming downstairs only to cook meals and refuel the fire, wading through floodwater in tall rubber boots and sending waves cascading into the kitchen walls. Looking at the flooding outside my train and then back to the page, Robinson's narrative suddenly came to life for me. It's still not quite enough to compensate for those early chapters, but at least it's keeping me reading.
One of the reasons I never invoke the Page 50 rule. To me it's like looking at only the corner of a painting and making a judgment on the entire thing based on that. Sometimes it all makes sense by the end.
There are actually very few books I have not finished reading, though there are many that in the end were not worth finishing.
Posted by: Paul at Apr 18, 2013 3:18:19 PM
I rarely invoke the rule myself, but I do like to have the option at the ready.
Posted by: Pete at Apr 19, 2013 3:08:39 PM