Nothing To See Here

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Nothing To See Here

Books Where Nothing Happens

Seinfeld, famously, claimed to be a show about nothing. The same could be said about the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. While you are in it, you might be engaged and interested, but afterword you might ask yourself, “What happened?” 
I’m fascinated by works that do this successfully, so I decided to make a list of some of my favorites. Note that some of these are considered classics.
 
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
This is one of the first books I read where nothing happened, and I loved it. I’ve re-read it a couple of times since then, and it never disappoints. It is the story of a housewife who might have discovered a secret underground postal service, or she might be imagining things based on a series of coincidences. She travels around Southern California attempting to discover the truth.

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
This is the story of the Ramsay family and their multiple visits to the Isle of Skye in the early 1900s. The family continually tries to visit a lighthouse on a nearby island, but never really makes it happen. Instead we are treated to little stories about their everyday lives.

The Castle by Franz Kafka
K. arrives in a village. He is to be the new land surveyor. When he attempts to present himself to his new employer in the castle, he finds himself stymied by villagers and officials alike. Poor K. is continually sent up the hill to the castle, and back down the hill to the village. You must laugh in order to keep from crying. It has one of the most perfect endings I’ve ever read.

Post Office by Charles Bukowski
Henry never wanted to work for the Post Service, but it’s been 12 years and he’s still there. When he makes some money at the track, he quits; when he runs out of money he goes back. He drifts around surviving a continual hangover and encounters with odd customers.
 
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
This is the story of two people who live in the same apartment building. Both people are amazingly talented; both are trying to hide their talents in order to fit in with others around them. The arrival of a new tenant in the building brings them together and changes everything.
 
The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett
This work could and has been called many things: a novelette, a short-story collection and a series of sketches. They all apply, but none are perfect. It’s the story of a small remote fishing village in Maine. The isolation has its effects on the villagers. Most of the sections have a name or a place for a title. In a way it feels like a record of the past, almost a diary. I couldn’t get enough. For fans of the Spoon River Anthology and Our Town.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé 
The Castafiore Emerald is the 21st volume of Tintin, and it is a real anomaly. It is the only book in the series where the characters stay home. The rest of the books involve world travel and adventure. This one is more of a detective story with no real criminal. The titular emerald goes missing, and it is up to Tintin and friends to find it. They follow false clues, find dead ends and run around accomplishing nothing. Fans of Tintin usually either love or hate this one.