First Lines: The River that Flows Uphill

A couple of years ago I struggled through Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. Well, when I say struggled, I mean that it took me three months and that I didn’t enjoy the experience. And when I say that I didn’t enjoy the experience, I mean that in the end I fucking hated the fucking book. Since then there have been a couple of other books that I didn’t quite enjoy, but I finished them all. That’s gonna change today.

Last year, someone gave me a (second-hand) copy of William H. Calvin’s De rivier die tegen de berg opstroomt (The Dutch translation of The River that Flows Uphill: A Journey from the Big Bang to the Big Brain). Not with the intention that I should actually read it, but you know, there it was, a book with my name on the cover and an enigmatic title. Seemed appropriate. Something like that, anyway.

A couple of months ago, I put this book on my nightstand for some bedtime reading. It turns out to be the fictionalized account of a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This trip is used as a frame to discuss earth history, evolution and all that. Which I usually don’t mind reading about. But in this case, I found it become increasingly difficult to set my mind to it and read on. Right now I’m about a third in, and I’m throwing the towel.

William H. Calvin — De rivier die tegen de berg opstroomt: Een reis naar de oorsprong van de aarde en de mens
Waar komen wij mensen vandaan?

And in case you’re wondering if I now should to add this book to point 22 (“Finish all books I’ve started in and then abandoned”) in my list of 100 things: no, I don’t have to. I’ve changed it around a bit, so number 22 now reads “Finish all books I’ve bought, started in and put aside before reaching the end.” You may call that cheating, but I don’t care. If I selected a book myself, then I should finish it. If someone gives me a book, I will do my very best to finish it, but if reading Eco’s damn book taught me one thing, it’s that I should loosen up a little. Reading should be fun. If it isn’t, you’re doing it wrong.