After reading - and really liking, despite not really understanding - Hal Duncan's short story The Prince of End Times in the Solaris Book of New Fantasy, I figured I'd give his debut novel Vellum a go.
After just under 200 pages, I've finally thrown in the towel. Vellum was just too much for me, I couldn't handle it. Normally I'll put a book down because it's boring, badly written, or just failing to grab me for whatever reason. This wasn't the case with Vellum.
I loved the premise of the novel. I loved the prose. And I liked the segments of the story where I had some rough idea of what was happening. But I just couldn't keep up with the narrative, which leaps backwards and forwards in time, and weaves between different worlds. A character will die in one chapter, then they'll be alive in the next one because it's set earlier in the timeline. Then they'll be dead again but in a different world, and you're not sure whether it's the same character (but in a different world and in an earlier/later time) or whether it's a different incarnation of that character, whose fate is not linked to the other incarnations...man, does that even make sense? Maybe now you can see why I couldn't keep up with this novel. OMG BRAIN MELTDOWN.
Seriously though, I just couldn't handle it. I'm quite happy to go with the flow for a while when I'm not quite understanding what's happening, but eventually I get to a point where I just can't go on.
Funnily enough, I was annoyed at having to put Vellum down: I really didn't want to. Perhaps I'll give it another go sometime, as there's some terrific (and crazy) stuff in there, not to mention some excellent writing.
For the moment though, Vellum > me :(