On failing, once again, to read Tristam Shandy

I have again failed to digest Laurence Stern's work Tristam Shandy. It may have been Karl Marx's favorite novel and others may praise it until the cows come home but I suspect I am not a very good post modernist or whatever qualities of character it takes to survive the novel.

I have tried to read it three times and just now have attempted to sit through Michael Winterbottom's film of the book -- well it is a sort of film version of the book if, say, Ricky Gervais was allowed to indulge himself. (But then doesn't Gervais always indulge himself with this incoherent new fashion humour I call 'embarrassment comedy'?)

The irony is that I love what the book attempts to do and will defer to its style when taken up by others such as Flann O'Brien's re- working of the form in At Swim-Two-Birds. It seems I'll never be able to clamber through the c hapters of Tristam Shanty in the same way that I'll have to forgo the attainment of mastering the north face (or is the south face more difficult?) of the Matterhorn.

I have read that perennial challenger to one's capacity to stay the course, James Joyce's Ulysses, and recommend it highly as a way to pass away a good period of one's life in a seated position, but Tristam is another matter. I have compensated by reading Stern's other works -- even his sermons! -- but I remain outside the capacity of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman to engage me.

You gotta realise how inadequate that makes me feel...

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