The published your diary
and that's how I got to know you
a key to the room of your own
and a mind without end.
It wasn't my favorite song on the album, but it's not bad, and it presents a fascinating perspective on one's death and legacy, so I spent time contemplating it. I posted the results of my musings here: Death II: Deal with it!
One day I was listening to this song and thought to myself "Maybe I should actually read this Room of One's Own book -- after all, it's short and my husband has a copy of it sitting right here on the bookshelf."
Obviously I was hoping to like the book. I'd heard it was an essay in favor of giving women the time, resources, and privacy to write. I'm totally down with that. In fact, I could hardly be more in favor of this position. It was the execution I had a problem with.
As I was reading along, I kept hoping the author would explain her position and present her arguments. Instead I found page after page of rambling and irrelevant poetic descriptive passages. I know her fans are probably saying "The poetry isn't irrelevant -- it's an essay about being a writer!" Right, but I was hoping that she'd show her mastery of the writer's craft by demonstrating that she knows how and when to make a point clearly and concisely.
I think it was the part where she was listing off the elaborate menu of some male scholars' club when I finally said, "Okay, that's it, I'm not slogging through any more of this." There are a lot of narratives that make the British caste system interesting with its grand institutions of nobility and snobbery. Orwell's essays come to mind. Not this.
Now I'm sure the problem isn't Virginia Woolf, it's me. I know, I have no poetry in my heart; I think that brevity is the soul of wit; I'm too much like Mr. Spock (see here and here). And keep in mind that I hold a work up to a higher standard if someone tells me it's great, as I explained when comparing The Da Vinci Code to His Dark Materials. In this case, however, if I'd been given this as an amateur work to give feedback on, I would have read it all the way to the end, but I would be even more adamant in my belief that it requires major editing rather than assuming that I need to work harder to figure out why I'm supposed to like it.
Actually this whole discussion breaks my usual book review policy that if I can't say something nice about a work then I don't review it at all. If this style suits other people, I don't mind. I'd rather steer people towards works I like than away from ones I don't like (but maybe they will). Thus I wouldn't have bothered to write about this work if it hadn't been the selection of the nonbelieving literati.