I have a confession to make.
I stopped reading a book.
I know many of us have done that - for a variety of reasons. (My best previous excuse was when I was reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and it got in the laundry bag and, well, ended up as pulp in the washer. I took that as a sign from God to stop reading stuff that might damage my soul!)
But in this case, it was a book I wanted to read, about a person I was interested in learning more about: Hilaire Belloc.
Last year, I bought an autographed copy of Joseph Pearce's Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc, at the Chesterton Conference in Rochester.
I couldn't finish it.
That's not a criticism of Pearce. I've read others of his books that I have enjoyed.
It was Belloc.
The more I read, the less I liked him, and the less I cared to read more about him. (Sort of like the people who discovered the more contact they had with Rudy Giuliani, the less they liked him. Thus his Florida flop.)
I was reminded of what happened with my planned biography of Bishop Sheen many years ago.
At the time I was a writer for the diocesan paper in Rochester, where he served as bishp from 1966-69. We have his archives, and I had access to many people who knew him.
I decided to write a multi-part series about his years in Rochester for the paper, and then to expand the series into a book.
I interveiwed, read, searched the archives, and wrote the series. I won an award for it.
But the more I dug into his life, the less I wanted to spend time with him. A biographer (can't remember who) once commented that to write a good biography you have to be willing to live with the subject for several years.
I could not imagine living with Bishop Sheen.
Nothing against him per se. And not a judgement of his morality or character: He may well be in heaven praying for my soul right now.
I just didn't like him as a person. There have been a lot of saints who would have been murder to live with. That doesn't mean they are not saints.
Anyway, that's how I began to feel about Belloc.
Guess I'll stick with Chesterton. I never get tired of hanging around with him.
3 months ago