Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
Mind-numbing catalogs of whale types and sailing activities, descriptions of whale anatomy in overly-romantic terms. There is only a single meeting of the hero and the monster, and that is at the end; makes you miss the old "two unsuccessful encounters before final triumph" story. The actual story is stark.
Yet: this starkness is a testament to overwhelming narrative willpower, and that is impressive. Plus there are so many crazy little bits that I can't help liking it. Watch:
Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.