It is now painfully clear that I've let the enthusiasm over this roundtable wane, but I will not abandon ship (as I lugged that book here to NY with me and damn if we're not going to get to the bottom of this!) and I'm confident we can collectively prevail.
So - we agreed that although I didn't map out a proper reading schedule (Scott runs a much more organized group read than I) or a planned grouping of topics to discuss, we'd start with: Did You Like It?
I'm nearly finished with it and I find that while I was at first skeptical, I then was very much liking it for a whole chunk of the middle and now I'm back to skeptical again. I can often read a plotless novel for hundreds of pages and enjoy it if the sentences are fantastic. Something about The Instructions, however, is leaving me anxious that I will have spent my time in vain, that there will be no payoff worth the 1,000 pages of my time. I'm usually not a reader who cares this much about payoff...so...that's something. Much as I enjoy living all the way down the rabbit-hole that is Gurion's mind (which was at first charming in a Nicholson Baker, minutae kind of way) I can't help but feel we need to get to the point in this novel. I keep thinking "let's move this along."
Yet, I suspect that not getting to the point is...the point of this novel.
There are also some problems for me with Gurion being too self-aware of how his wiritng may appear to others and how his hyper self-awareness raises a question for me of Levin's own hyper-awareness and it feels a bit like an excuse. Sort of like Bolano's grand caveat in 2666 that ultimately was a big plea: "This isn't perfect, I know it, don't judge..."
I have many examples of Gurion's/Levin's voice that kept interrupting my flow, my total immersion in the novel. There were areas where Levin got so meta that I felt it was cutesy. Too cutesy. Almost whiny. But I won't get into all that now...there's plenty of time for all of that.
In answer to the question "Did You Like It?" and as a way to kick off the discussion, I can simply say that the jury is out for me whereas a few weeks ago, I was very much on the side of yes. You?