A Lump of Prose


Do you want a real reading challenge? Tear off a hunk of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. I don’t know how I managed to avoid being forced to read this in High School. But I checked it out of the library recently, and I find it an dense as Fruit Cake. Fenimore would take three (small print) pages to describe the outfit Bumppo was wearing. And landscape? Lord that man could drag out a description of snowy hills and trees.

I have chewed my way through about half of the first volume, The Pioneers, and I am stunned. The sheer weight of prose and the care with which you have to soak it in causes slow reading. This is exactly the kind of thing my High School English classes sought to numb the minds of us rambunctious boy children and control us. This man makes Melville look like Mickey Spillane.

I see that Mark Twain took a heavy stick to it later, to good effect.

I’ll make a go of this, at least until I get tired of re-reading passages that are too dense to chop through in one pass. You really need a bushhog to get through. If you are looking for a challenge to keep your mind clicking and avoid the OldTimers Disease, get this.