The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, Umberto Eco, tr. Geoffrey Brock
Painful, though not boring because you're always waiting for that final resolution, and you don't realize that Umberto is taking you farther and farther away from it. So not boring, because you always believe he'll reveal the key to it all for you, even as the right-hand ream gets thinner and thinner, and as the larger and larger illustrations leave less and less room for the crucial text. And no- he does not reveal it. He reveals nothing but has just tricked you with his smirky face into plowing through catalogs and catalogs of gratuitous comic book narratives and war-time Italian pop lyrics, encouraging you with good but despairingly sparse stories, encouraging you to come to the end of nothing. Nothing at all, not even what we didn't think was worth caring about. Yet- though nothing- something. Something that returns to the beginning and ties something down; I'm just not sure what it is.
It's not painful; it's... Gently frustrating.