My DNF and Review of Gutshot by Amelia Gray

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I really tried with this book; I swore I was going to finish it even though I’d taken almost zero interest in the first 80 pages I read. Last night I skipped around to a few more stories because I felt guilty about the very idea that I was going to DNF it. You can’t just quit a book!

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But where’s my integrity? I’ve been talking about DNFing and reading other blog posts about DNFing books. At the end of the day I think we all agree there’s not enough time to spend it reading a book you don’t like when we all also agree that there’s too many books to read every single one you could ever want! So there I was reading a book that was like plugging my nose to avoid tasting what I’m eating. I just wanted to hurry up and get through it and call it read.

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If I had one hundred or so pages left to go in that book but I was barely interested 80 pages in, why? That’s one hundred pages I could be into the next book such as The Honours or The Voyage of the Basilisk. At least the latter I know I’m going to like a little bit because I’ve liked the first two in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. And The Honours, well I know there’s a story there, it sounds interesting, and I like the author’s podcast. Do I really want to keep reading a collection of stories that has me saying

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This might as well be my review but no, I’m going to follow the format I’ve used on other books and give you my Goodreads review.

Info from Goodreads:

(My DNF & review of Gutshot follows)

A searing new collection from the inimitable Amelia Gray

A woman creeps through the ductwork of a quiet home. A medical procedure reveals an object of worship. A carnivorous reptile divides and cauterizes a town. Amelia Gray’s curio cabinet expands in Gutshot, where isolation and coupling are pushed to their dark and outrageous edges. These singular stories live and breathe on their own, pulsating with energy and humanness and a glorious sense of humor. Hers are stories that you will read and reread—raw gems that burrow into your brain, reminders of just how strange and beautiful our world is. These collected stories come to us like a vivisected body, the whole that is all the more elegant and breathtaking for exploring its most grotesque and intimate lightless viscera.

Paperback, 209 pagesPublished April 14th 2015 by Fsg Originals (first published March 3rd 2015)

My DNF & Review of Gutshot by Amelia Gray

1/5 stars (sorry, not sorry)

I don’t know if it’s fair to leave a rating for a book I didn’t finish but then again this is a testament to how I feel about this book and what I’d rate it, so I did.

The reason I DNFed this book is because it wasn’t interesting to me. I gave it a chance, for real, I read almost half the book. Let me tell you it is very difficult for me to just quit a book. Given how small it is I was determined to read it in its entirety but then I came across a story that was extra graphic and violent. It turned me off completely. I’m not skittish about violence but this felt like it was just violent to be violent. I’m sure there was a deeper meaning but it wasn’t worth spending anymore time on it, even though I read the story to the end to see if it was worth it after all. Nope. The stories I did read in addition to that one weren’t anymore interesting. So many of them were pointless. At the end of the story I’d sit there thinking, did I miss something or was that not a story at all? I got tired of wondering about the rest of the story between the lines, I couldn’t get into the story on the lines.

I get stories having a deeper meaning and subtle nuances but they have to be interesting to start. Sure there were pieces here and there that made me decide to keep reading. I thought this was going to be my cup of tea but turns out it’s not. And I’ve decided not to be afraid to DNF books that I’m just not connecting to at all. Why when there are so many I will enjoy at least half the time? 

I like weird stories but I want there to be a story, some meat on the bone and these stories were just bone IMHO, like broken bones. Reading the blurb again I feel a little cheated because that makes the book sound really interesting. It turned out to be like a movie trailer in which all the good parts are in the trailer.

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Have you read this book? Do you plan to? Let me know what you thought, feel free to share your thoughts even if you disagree. I love discussion!

CLICK HERE to check out my other reviews.

And visit my 2019 TBR to see what’s piquing my interest. You’ll find what I’ve read so far this year, what I’m currently reading, and what I plan to read. How do our TBRs compare?

Do You DNF?

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This post is happening because I’m in the midst of whether or not to DNF? Do you DNF? It’s not really grammatically correct to ask do you “do not finish” or “did not finish”, but that’s the beauty of language and this age of everyone loves acronyms. LOL. But really, do you DNF? I don’t.

I’m not against it, I mean I’ve done it a few times, on purpose. (If I didn’t do it on purpose I don’t count it unless I pick up the book (so to speak) and say yeah I’m not going to read you after all.) It’s hard for me to give up on a book, even if I’m not enjoying it. That really doesn’t make sense, do I really have time to read something I don’t like? After all, there are literally tens of thousands of books, plus, to be discovered by my brain and yours. There are 196 books on my Goodreads want-to-read shelf, and I promise you that list will grow because that list doesn’t include every sequel or installment in series I’ve found and have yet to learn I like.

If I find a new author and I like their work then I’m going to see what else they’ve written. I’m probably going to follow them if I like them a lot. So in the case of Patricia McKillip, I have a lot of back reading to do. No I don’t read every book by every author I enjoy but it’s possible that I could (in theory). Every year hundreds, thousands of new books are published, many are debuts. That means more authors and series to add to my list. Unless I learn how to read a book a day, it’s safe to say I’ll never get to every book I might want to read out there.

So it is I keep asking myself, do you DNF? AHHHHHH! It’s so hard! Even after everything I just said about all the books out there, when I’m reading a book I feel like I HAVE to finish it. There’s a stain in my mind when I see those books I said OMG I can’t do this. What if it got better after I quit? But what if it never did? What if the ending kind of makes it worth it? Then just read the ending. But where exactly is the ending?

My great aunt and I had lunch the other day and we talked about this DNF. Do you DNF my dear aunt? Her answer wasn’t yes or no, but in summary it was yes. She will flip forward a dozen or so pages and if it gets better, great, if it doesn’t she skips to the end and reads the ending. At the very least, you gotta know how it ends right? She agreed, why spend time reading something you don’t like?

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DNF Lists

When I searched Goodreads’ lists for “DNF” I got 15 results, not all relevant. The top of the list was “The Most Begun ‘Read But Unfinished’ (Initiated) Book Ever” with 2,334 books in the list. The list was created in July 2008, has 653 likes, and 12,383 people voted on the list. The description states that this list is not about books being bad, just really difficult to finish. The book at the top of the list is Catch 22 #1 by Joseph Heller. Next is The Lord of the Rings series. There’s Ulysses, Moby Dick, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, Dracula, The Catcher in the Rye, A Brief History of Time, 1984, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Interview with the Vampire (love that movie), Eat Pray Love, The Great Gatsby, The Origin of Species, and I’m skipping a lot of books on the first page. Little Women, The Time Traveler’s Wife (another great movie), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (my dad read this to us when I was kid before bed we’d gather and listen), American Gods, Gulliver’s Travels, and book number #100 on this first page is The Red Badge of Courage.

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There are 24 pages total. Granted this spans 10 1/2 years of people voting and adding books, I’m leaning towards surprise there’s not more! Perhaps I don’t understand the severity of 24 pages of about 100 books… On page 24 we find Portrait of a Killer – Jack the Ripper, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants #1, The Hate You Give (strange as it has a 4.55 star average rating, though I haven’t read or seen it), The Lost City of Z, To the Ends of the Earth, and so many more as I only picked out some titles that sounded familiar to me. While I’m more than curious to scan over some of the other pages, I do not have the time. Do you DNF any of these?

Another list is titled “Books Not On My Shelves That I’ve Started But Could Not/Did Not Finish”. Their description is ” Books not gripping enough or interesting enough to be worth finishing–or adding to a DNF shelf.” There are 68 books and 30 voters, started April 2012. Not so many here especially given almost seven years. The first is On the Road by Jack Kerouac, the second is Catch 22 (again), and the last is Inside Outside by Philip Jose Farmer.

There’s a “DNF” list, “Sorry Couldn’t Finish Reading”, “Books We DNFed In 2015”, “Books you have abandoned this year in 2018”, “Books I Decided Not to Finish”, “Books We DNFed in 2016”, “First Half Good, Last Half Disappointing/Bad”, and many more. A lot of these don’t have many voters, the first list I mentioned was the only one that passed 1,000 books or 1,000 voters.

DNF Posts

Then of course there are plenty of blog posts dedicated to DNFed books and the topic of DNF. One blogger, at Sophie’s Corner, writes how she has a hard time DNFing books. It seems we all come back to the fact that there is so little time and so much to do. She created a list of criteria she’s going to use going forward. One such set of criteria I haven’t considered is triggers and explicit content. Do you DNF books for these reasons? I would but I haven’t picked up a lot of books trigger me in this way. I’ve read some gruesome books and taken interest in them but most of the time I don’t read a lot of that. I don’t read horror. But if I happened to pick up something and the blurb didn’t forewarn me so-to-speak but the story bothered me, I think that this is quick reason to DNF.

Book Steff is another blogger who finds it difficult to DNF books. I’m finding more and more that it’s common for people to find this difficult to do. She has a 100 page limit before she’ll DNF a book, more if it’s a chunkster as they call books 450 pages or more in the bookish world. (Of course it could be 500 plus pages depending who you talk to.) She emphasizes that you should allow yourself to put a book down that just doesn’t fit you. Don’t be ashamed. Interesting angle…

The biggest reason I even think about DNFing a book is because I can’t get into it, I just don’t care what happens in this story or to the characters. The reason I even finish those books is because I can’t stand to not finish a book. But it does frustrate me to get to the end of a book and never forge any connection with the characters or the story. If I’m halfway through a book and I still feel like I’m reading something for school, something assigned to me, I get anxious and pick up another book. I will seriously read other books but come to that one again and again reading pages just because I feel I have to and hope I don’t regret it.

While I’ve not run into a lot of books like this – I’ve found some blurbs and reading samples – I will absolutely DNF a book with loads of spelling mistakes (lack of editing) and overall unprofessional writing. If the story reads like seven year old wrote it but an adult did, I’m not going there. Now we’re into a whole other topic…back to do you DNF…

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I could go on, there’s much more, so many more bloggers and lists and reasons for DNFing. Maybe we’ll revisit this in the future, but for now I’m going to leave this here. So what do you say, should we create some DNF criteria this year? What do you DNF & why? Or why is it hard for you to DNF?

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