Read this Jo Walton article, and then come back.
When I was in college, my boyfriend and I took Science Fiction as Lit as an elective. I thought the course readings were awesome, but he had a terrible time with Ringworld (L.Niven). I told him, when you get to one of those really long exposition paragraphs, skip it, and it won't really harm your enjoyment of the story. He didn't love it, but he did finish the book.
Same person, I let him read a short story I'd written, and he said it wasn't as good as Mark Twain.