DNF - "See Now Then" by Jamaica Kincaid

I made a vow this year that I wasn't going to push through the books that weren't grabbing me and allow myself some DNF's.  The first of the year is See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid.

I haven't read anything of hers before but have heard so many great things so I figured I would start with her latest book.  The blurb on Amazon says the book is a "piercing examination of the manifold ways in which the passing of time operates on the human consciousness unfolds gracefully, and Kincaid inhabits each of her characters—a mother, a father, and their two children, living in a small village in New England—as they move, in their own minds, between the present, the past, and the future: for, as she writes, 'the present will be now then and the past is now then and the future will be a now then.'"

The reason why I didn't like it?  I didn't like the writing style.  It is repetitive and it runs on.  Now, I get that there are a lot of people who like this style, but it just didn't grab me this time around.  I couldn't handle reading sentences like:

"And he said a good night to those people who smelled as if they lived in rooms where wood was always burning in the wood stove, and immediately no longer thought of them as they drove home in their Subarus and secondhand Saabs, and he put on his coat, a coat made from the hair of camels, a very nice coat, double-breasted, that the beastly wife of his, Mrs. Sweet, had bought for him from Paul Stuart, a fine haberdasher in the city where Mr. Sweet was born and he hated the coat because his benighted wife had given it to him and how could she know what a fine garment it was, she who had not long ago gotten off the banana boat, or some other benighted form of transport, everything about her being so benighted, even the vessel on which she arrived, and he loved the coat for it suited him, he was a prince, a prince should wear such a coat, an elegant coat;"

A period does not appear for another half a page.  I'm not completely against this style, I just couldn't get into it this time around and I became annoyed by the character of Mr. Sweet.  About 75 pages in, I gave up.

Have you read See Now Then?  Do you think I should give it another chance?


  1. I had trouble with this one, too. Took me long minutes just to read a single page, and if I put the book down and came back to it, it would take a while to realize that I'd already read that page. i love her other work, but this one simply didn't mesh well with me.

    1. I'm so glad it wasn't me. I found myself re-reading so many pages, it was becoming too much. I'll still give her other work a shot though.

  2. DNFs are always such a bummer aren't they? The wasted time, ugh! But I think it's great that you've decided not to push yourself through books that aren't speaking to you!

    That sentence, oh my word. :/

    1. I am a little bummed about the wasted time, but now I realize I wasted a lot more time pushing through the books that weren't grabbing me.


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