I am listening to Moby Dick at the moment, and am enjoying it thoroughly. I was always a little intimidated of this book in the past, but am finding it to be very accessible and enjoyable. This makes me wonder - what put me off reading it for so long?
It seems there are a list of books in our heads which we feel we 'ought' to have read. I understand this, and how sometimes this can be useful. Also, as reading is such a democratic thing, open to so many, that some readers feel a pecking order is required.
As a young man, 'Ulysses' was the great unexploded bomb on my book shelf. I tried and failed a few times, but the great literary status symbol was denied me. I compensated with Proust, but literary gentlemen seem to feel that Joyce has a more masculine cache. And more importantly - it's very hard to understand. Pushing 120kg on the benchpress is nothing to breezily discussing Joycean idiom - at least in some circles.
As I have got older I have got impatient with all this nonsense. A story either holds my attention, or it does not. It stays with me, or it does not. And as for symbolism - I find I can discover my own meanings in works without having a cryptic 'message' buried in the narrative for me by the author. I have nothing to prove to anyone, at least not by displaying my bookshelf.
The worry is that all this baggage has prevented me from reading a book I am enjoying so much now. Perhaps I needed to grow up first.