changing tastes in reading

It’s interesting how one’s tastes in reading (and other things) change over time.

When I was in my twenties and thirties one of my favorite books was Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. I can’t tell you how many times I read it. It was a favorite of many of my generation. But when I tried to get interested in books that Robbins wrote in later decades I simply couldn’t become engaged. If fact, when I downloaded a Kindle sample of Another Roadside Attraction a couple of years ago I discovered that I just wasn’t into it.

On the other hand, back in the 1980’s I tried to get going with Gore Vidal’s then-new book Creation. It is a novel narrated by a fictional grandson of Zoroaster, and is presented as a rebuttal to the Histories of Herodotus from a Persian perspective. I remember having a hardcover copy and trying to read it on my first honeymoon. Yes, I know you’re supposed to have other things on your mind on a honeymoon, but it was a Hawaii cruise, it was raining, and my first wife would take afternoon naps. So I was out there on an enclosed deck reading Vidal. I just couldn’t get excited about it.

Creation coverRecently, however, I had been reading some nonfiction and I wanted a change. I downloaded the Kindle sample of Creation and found the book quite book quite interesting. It turns out that this is an expanded version published in 2002. It seems that an overzealous editor underestimated the interest of the average Vidal reader (or perhaps the average fiction reader) in the details of life and ritual in the ancient world, and cut a good deal of what he considered to be minutia. That’s all restored in the 2002 edition.

I’m currently reading and enjoying the book and not getting bogged down in anything that looks like minutia. (Fun fact (at least I assume it’s a fact): A eunuch who is castrated after achieving sexual maturity can still have an erection. Therefore the ladies of the harem, many of whom probably did not have a great deal of fondness for their husbands (who had most likely been chosen for them), and in fact most likely rarely even saw them, were perfectly happy to have the attention of the better-looking eunuchs, who were, after all, there to look after them. And besides, sexual faithfulness was not the issue. What was really at stake was that any children born to the wife were actually the king’s offspring. But I digress.)

So yes, our tastes do change over the decades.

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