Last Stop on the Meme Train

Chris Clarke inflicted this on me a while back and now I finally tackle it.

1. Of all the books that you have eventually finished after many starts & stops, which one took you the longest and how long did it eventually take?

So many like this in my reading history, they all blur together. Sometimes I finish one and think, “Oh, man, am I glad I stuck with that.” Other times, I question my sanity for working through the book so doggedly. Recently? Neil Stephenson, The Confusion, which I have to say was a great big bore, for all that I was interested in what he was trying to do in the series. Gene Wolfe, The Knight: time for Wolfe to try something different, I think. Umberto Eco, Baudolino.

2. What great band (or album or song) have you heard so often, you wouldn’t mind never hearing again even though you still think the band (or album or song) is great?

I remember there was a moment in the early 1990s where I felt like I never wanted to hear Stray Cats or Squeeze ever ever again and I still feel like that. “Black Coffee in Bed” still annoys me vaguely when I hear it even though I guess it’s a fine song.

3. Which cliché or often cited quote needs to be placed in quarantine for a few decades?

I always feel like puking when I see “Practice Random Acts of Kindness” on a bumper sticker. I’d settle for sticking that one away for a while.

4. During the 1990s “Compassion Fatigue” received a lot of press, now the media is giddy with “Donation Fatigue”. What will be the next trendy fatigue?

War Weariness. Guess who’s been playing a lot of Civilization IV. Or living in the United States of America, take your pick.

5. What percentage of respondents will answer “meme fatigue” to question #4?

At this point, this is an empirical rather than predictive question.

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3 Responses to Last Stop on the Meme Train

  1. I don’t think this quite counts for #1, but it’s my best story regardless: I started John Le Carre’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” when I was about 13 years old, and finished it after I graduated from college, when I was 24 or 25. Over the years I’d frequently taken it out of or packed it away in various boxes, always thinking “I really need to try to read that sometime,” but I never did. Then, one weekend, I took it off the shelf, and read the whole thing. A fine novel, I thought, during to the back cover and being shocked to see “Russell Fox, Troop 606” written in black felt pen–a sign from when I’d taken the book on a campout, intending to read it by the fire. Weird.

  2. Doug says:

    #3 Speak truth to power. A perfect storm. Bring it on. (Fortunately, the mother of all X seems to have gone into long overdue remission.)

    #1 Gravity’s Rainbow has been pending since 1989, and is thus a leading candidate if I ever finish it. The Magic Mountain has been on pause since 1993.

  3. “Gene Wolfe, The Knight: time for Wolfe to try something different, I think.”

    Amen. I’m at a loss to understand the almost universal acclaim The Knight received. (Actually, the last Wolfe book I really liked was There are Doors, though parts of The Book of the Short Sun are very good.)

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