So you’re reading along, in a book you quite enjoy, one whose characters lives are very reminiscent of your own, their little dramas seeming oh so familiar to you, when you start feeling just a bit nervous, fearful really, of what’s coming.   Because actually, this situation – this fictional situation, you keep reminding yourself – is inching ever closer to something in your own life that’s just a bit too horrible to contemplate right now.

But still you keep reading, hoping against hope that what this character (who has by now become quite dear to your heart) is about to reveal won’t be that dreaded thing  you’re so worried about.  You keep reading, sending a silent pleading to the universe, making one of those crazy, ridiculous bargains with fate -if it isn’t true for her, than it won’t be true for me.

And then, it splashes over the page like vomit.  That vile circumstance you dreaded so.

And you can’t read the book any more.


Now tell me, has this ever happened to you, that a book cut so close to the quick of your own life that you were forced to abandon it?


13 thoughts on “Abandoned

  1. Wow, that sounds pretty intense. I can’t remember this ever happening to me. I know I’ve read books that hit pretty close to home but never to the point you describe.

  2. I can’t say it has; I’m sorry it happened to you. I don’t read a lot of contemporary American fiction, so I’m usually reading about characters with vastly different lives. Sometimes, a choice or attitude of theirs will remind me of myself (and maybe make me squirm a little) but never a perfect echo.

  3. Wow… I’ve abandoned a lot of books over time but I don’t think it’s ever been for a reason like this. I think I may have abandoned the book much earlier. Hope your next book gets you over this one.

  4. I always love your descriptive prose!!
    Yes and no to the question. Whenever I would read a book about incest or molestation I’d get this creepy feeling (Anne Marie MacDonald’s “Fall On Your Knees” and “The Way the Crow Flies” are two examples that come to mind immediately) and want to abandon them but I’d read to the end. It wasn’t until this year that I finally came to terms with the fact that my father had molested me (to some degree) and my sister to a greater degree. I think the knowledge had always been there but I didn’t “look”. It would be reading something about this and initially I’d think “you’re just sick about it because it’s such a bad thing to happen to a child”. Now I know better. Great topic Becca.

  5. Lisa – I’m glad you’ve never had this experience…it’s rather disconcerting.

    Eva-Reading so much contemporary fiction has it’s pitfalls – everyone seems to be suffering from the same problems! Perhaps my next book will be non-fiction (something political for light reading 😉

    Iliana-In retrospect, I should have stopped reading the minute I felt uneasy. But it’s sort of like worrying a toothache – the irrestible urge to probe hurt. Next time (if there is one) I’ll know better.

    Sherry – Oh my, you have certainly experienced this on a far deeper level than I. Those are such painful realizations, and you certainly don’t need to be reminded of them by fiction.

  6. yes, i felt this way when i was reading “Aelred’s Sin”. i felt like their love remained unconsummated and left me wanting. not abandoned so much as incomplete, inchoate.

    nice blog. love your writing style.

  7. I can’t think of a book that I’ve abandoned but there is one book that I have avoided because of the similarities to my own childhood. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff. I watched the movie starring Leo DiCaprio and was nauseated. Every time I see the book I turn the opposite direction.

  8. Not because (thank God) it’s actually happened, but I had to abandon Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved for a long, long time after the death of the child because the way the situation was described was so terrible. I think you describe it very well, that sensation of impending emotional explosion.

  9. Pingback: The Sunday Salon-Motherhood, Apple Pie, and… « Bookstack

  10. I have been afraid of this happening but so far it hasn’t. And I’m quite glad of that. My reading experiences are intense enough with it!

  11. I read a book in december,it was called mother’s helper,but actually I think it wasn’t the real title…it was about a girl named Laura who worked as a nanny…now,3 months after,lots of similar things are happening to me.I’ve never been supersticious,but I have to recognise I’m a little bit sacred!

  12. Wow, your blog really hit a spot with me. I know I’ve read books that I got that terrible feeling in my gut that something was going to happen. I’ve blanked out on all the book titles, but there is a movie coming out based on Ruth Hamilton’s book (Map at the End of the Universe? i think it’s called )- about the death of a child. I read it but it wasn’t enjoyable at all, I felt sick. Like Litlove, I have a problem with books that deal with the deaths of children (I can’t read Russel Banks book – again I’ve blanked on the title – something about a cloud?), and with incest – but like one of your commentators, I was ‘interfered ‘ with as a child, and while I can read about it, I am always very uncomfortable for most of the book. I’ve read Susan Palwick’s book (hmmm, do you think my brain has blanked out the titles on PURPOSE??) and Charles De Lint……
    so I guess my question for you is, what book were you reading, and what was it about, that made you react so much to it? since you never say, in the blog entry…..

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