My ambitious book for the winter was going to be Robert Musil's masterpiece, and when I read the first few chapters, I thought it was going to be a success, but at 150 pages or so in, I'm throwing it overboard. I thought it would be one of those rich, expansive, epic stories similar to War and Peace, but...it's no War and Peace.
It has so far been a series of character sketches, and while finely drawn, there just isn't enough interaction, dialogue (but lots of inner monologues), or plot to keep me going -- not for three volumes (never finished!) anyway. I know that it is supposed to be a detailed portrait of the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the Great War and the cultural and intellectual life of the characters, but I just don't have the patience to read about what everyone is "thinking" all the time, without its being tied to some actual feeling. Tolstoy rolls out his characters and they immediately come to life, and he manages to explore ideas and important historical moments while still engaging and entertaining the reader. I'm not really getting that from Musil. So I'm starting my new year by refusing to slog through a Proustian-length novel that isn't going to hold my interest.
Oh well, sometimes you're just not in the mood for certain books. I might be diving into Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety about the French revolutionaries, especially fitting since I hope to visit France later this year.