Journey Versus Destination
Some books I read for the story, or to put it differenty, for the destination. Others I read for the rich characters and the interpersonal drama. Once in a while, I find a book where I simply enjoy the prose, so the journey of reading becomes the highlight. Patrick Rothfuss' novels are perfect examples of the later, so much so that his blog is nearly as enjoyable as his books.
I'm going to avoid spoilers, so if you haven't read his books, you don't need to turn away. But I've just finished his second novel, Wise Man's Fear, so the whole notion of enjoying a book for the journey more than the destination is pretty strong in my head.
For those of you who haven't read WMF or Name of the Wind, I highly recommend them. Rothfuss' prose is effortless*, smooth, and above all else witty in a way that makes me shake my fist at the heavens from envy. He's that good.
Essentially, the novels are the grown hero recounting his younger days to a historian, to tell his own story without the flourish of the myths that have grown up around him. This isn't to say that he doesn’t embellish his own accomplishments or that he is a completely reliable narrator, but that's the fun of the tale. The telling.
My one criticism of the novels is that the destination isn't nearly as satisfying as the journey. We spend so much time going day by day with the younger hero that the story arch for each book is not nearly as compelling. In the case of the first novel, the ending feels tacked on after the fact and not in synch with the rest of the book. The story arch is better constructed for the second book, but even that took too long to get started and at the end didn’t resolve enough of the series' meta storyline as I would expect for book two.
And yet, I still recommend them because the books are so much fun to read, and the story of the struggling young man has a breath of honesty in it. We see his flaws and strengths, so Kvothe feels like a real person, not a cut-out hero.
Do any of you have favorite books where the journey is more enjoyable than the destination?
*I use the term "effortless" to describe the effect when reading his prose. From reading his blog, I know how hard he has worked to write, polish, and re-write his novels. His "effortless" prose took a great amount of effort and I thank him for it.