Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pillars of Great Girth

Over our long holiday weekend I decided to get down to it and really tackle some work around the house to which I needed to attend.
I had some unfinished business, and mustered up the energy to confront the laborious task at hand.
So I brewed myself some coffee, put it on ice, poured myself a tall glass (with a neon bendy straw and a dollop of half and half) and sat outside in the sun:

I was on a mission to finish a book. This was not just any brain-candy beach read I wanted to plow through in a sitting - no, this was the culimination of weeks of reading diligently before bedtime, at lunch, and on weekend afternoons, because this book is something like 973 pages long:

The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, who, it is rumored, took about ten years to write this beast.
Appropriate, as it took me literally 32-35 hours to read it.

The narrative follows the erection of a cathedral in 12th Century England, and all the many players involved in making this happen, as well as the characters involved in trying to prevent it from happening (and, let me tell you, if I learned anything from this tome, it's that it is F-ing HARD to build a cathedral).

I don't think Ken Follett is a particularly gifted writer in his turn of phrase (he overuses the same adjectives repeatedly, which drives me NUTS) , and he has a disturbing predilection for narrating lengthy visceral battle and rape scenes, of which there are both plenty in the book, graphically detailed to a fault. But his characters are rich, their motives believable, and each is integral to the movement of the story (except one character, Martha, who I kind of kept expecting to play a more pivotal role towards the end, but was disappointed).

There is a ton of interesting information about building in that era, and Follet does a masterful job of bringing the grime, grit, and gore of the 12th Century alive. Also, if you're not sold yet, there's a lot of sex (which always makes me uncomfortable to read about, mostly because I always imagine middle aged Ken Follett painstakingly penning the scene, which kind of weirds me out, because, as an aspiring writer, I don't think that would be fun, or that I could take myself seriously in doing so, but whatever).

If you don't like to read, lucky you:
They're bringing Pillars of the Earth to Starz as an 8 part miniseries this year!
Looks to be entertaining as Rufus Sewell and Donald Sutherland both have parts.

But, thanks for nothing, dudes...WHO THE HELL SUBSCRIBES TO STARZ?

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