Over the past week, a lot of bloggers (and others) have been linking to and discussing a very clever essay by Mark OConnell on The Stockholm Syndrome Theory of Long Novels.
The basic theory is that, much like a hostage taker, a long book can get away with "long, cruel sessions of torture" by committing occasional acts of kindness. If the book does this, the reader will become disproproportionately and perversely devoted to it.
As an illustration of this theory, the author notes: "I can't say that I enjoyed every minute of [Gravity's Rainbow], or even that I enjoyed all that much of it at all, but I can say that by the time I got to the end of it I was glad to have read it . . . . I felt as though I had been through something major, as though I had not merely experienced something but done something."
This is hardly true of my experience. Some books I like more than others, but when I find I am not enjoying "all that much of a book at all" -- whatever its length -- I will put it down and leave it unfinished. Life is too short.