The Read thus Far

 

redacted-600x286I’m currently reading REDACTED by REDACTED (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Okay, it’s REDACTED‘s 9th book, written under a pen name as a new novelist. However, she has convinced me it’s a debut novel, given I’m on page 74 and still don’t care for any of her characters except the lead’s sidekick. Someone or something should be compelling by now, 16% of the way into the book. By my reckoning, the “hook” needs to come in the next 42 pages, when I’m 1/4 of the way through.

But this isn’t me trashing a very successful and acclaimed novel. In fact, I’ve redacted the author and title to avoid publicly criticizing the author. Rather, it’s me wondering if I really am so different than everyone else who reads. Am I truly the only person who thinks that being in all of the characters’ heads at once is amateurish, juvenile writing? Shouldn’t we writers be skilled enough not to write, for example, “Character A met B’s eyes, thinking she was giving him an odd look. Character B was thinking A was an ugly drunkard.” It’s all the writer talking, and little of the characters talking. Does anyone else get as turned off by this as I do?

Note to the writer: I don’t want to talk to you. Please STFU.

Love, Bill

Love,
Bill

There are too many usages of adverbs when sharp language would do and the author’s impressing us with how many different synonyms she knows for “said” for my tastes. Still, I know we all have different skills in life. Some people, like REDACTED, craft lovely, detailed, intricate plots. Others use language beautifully. I guess I’m learning which I prefer. Still, it would be great to find a single book with 1) interesting characters, 2) lovely usage of language,  3) no superfluous details (why did you fucking describe a camera on a pole for 2 sentences?) and 4) no unneeded words.

Here are some reviews:

“A fun read, with a main character you can care about and one you’ll want to see again in other adventures.”—Washington Post” (Nope. He’s kind of a whiny loser, so far. I guess he’ll grow on me, then, huh?)

“An extravagant, alien, fascinating world for its characters to explore…great pleasures.”—Slate (What the FUCK are you talking about? The alien world has a name. It’s called FUCKING LONDON! Who pays for these reviews? Damn!

Okay, so I’m going to finish this thing, because 1) I love mysteries, 2) I write mysteries, and 3) I’m on hiatus from writing. But the plot better be gripping, because the writing and characters are not.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Bill is pathetically jealous.” I can hear your head shaking. But honestly, I’m not. (I am, however, judging you for using an unneeded adverb.) The more writers who make money, the more opportunity in the market there is.  I am disappointed that  mysteries have somehow devolved to being police procedurals instead of character studies. I’m a sad that lyricism is a dying art. I am disappointed that the book won’t make me laugh, or cry, or get a tad horny, or even pissed off. I am sorry that I’ve spent 5 years writing 6 books for the sole purpose of becoming good at it (and I am now, finally) only to learn being good isn’t the point. The last thing I expected, or wanted, was that Stephen King moment, the one he described when he spoke about the moment when you put down some book and say: “This really sucks . . . I can do better than this. And this got published.” 

So I’ll just go back to my little office and keep writing books I only let my editor, my girl, and myself read. Maybe I’ll stumble across the book that makes me weep and believe that literature isn’t dead. Because, seriously, I’ve already done better than this, and that makes me sadder than you know.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “The Read thus Far

  1. Man, your post is a better read than that book! It just goes to show that once you have your foot in the door any old bollocks becomes acceptable. Quality is dying, and not just in books. It’s become a cultural phenomenon that us artists have been kicked in the ribs by, quantity over quality, shite over real talent. Why? Because it’s cheap and faddist. Most people don’t recognise their arses from their elbows anyway, so they don’t even realise what this cultural paradigm shift implies to the very fabric of cultural development. When art dies like this, revolutions and wars usually follow. Just saying.

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    • That’s really my objection. Even when I was in my 20s, whether I had a favorite genre or not, most of the books I picked up were well-written. Today, most seem to be written at the most elementary level possible. There’s no love of language, no spirit and flow to the work. I’m deeper in the novel and it hasn’t improved at all. There are long sentences with 3 independent clauses strung together, as if the author was given a quota on the number of full stops she could use. I’ve found more grammatical errors than should be allowed for a non-indie bestseller.

      But more importantly, even though I’m interested in the mystery and want to finish the book, I’m bored. The character interviews subjects and we’re made to hear the whole interview. Why? There’s no emotion, even though we’re told the characters are being emotional.

      We’ve reached this point in literature because of the asinine way they taught poetry, which is to kill the lyricism. It’s time to start a grassroots campaign, which can only be done by celebrating language and lyricism. I just wonder if it’s too late for the patient to be saved, or if any of the surviving relatives still care.

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      • It’s never too late, there are always upcoming generations willing to break all the rules and start again (so they will believe..). It’s the same pattern of events that entraps and, also releases every generation into the realm of new and possible creative experiences. It’s about tapping into the right channels and reaching the people who count. Become the teacher and reteach the lyricism, however that works for you and the budding lyricists out there. It only take one person to begin a revolution. Language is broken and remoulded all the time, meanings are lost and replaced. There is always room for the reinvention of language and of ways of thinking.

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  2. Reblogged this on Maria To The Core and commented:
    This post is as important to the unfolding future of modern culture as any governmental policy. Yet it’s likely to be dismissed, even overlooked, because the lay person’s opinion just doesn’t count anymore. You may think it’s just a book review, but it’s more than that. It is a mark of our times, a branding that implies the very heavy burden that as a culture we at some point are going to be desperate to shake off. It’s what happens when civilisations reach ‘saturation point’. If you’re still left scratching your head, then I guess you’re just not a big-picture thinker. Mind you, tsunamis whether real or metaphorical are indiscriminate. We’re all drowning in this one.

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  3. I am half asleep from watching the soccer, so am battling to work out ho this author is…
    I have a clue and if it is who I am leaning toward I have never read her books.

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