?

Log in

No account? Create an account
I can in fact quit you: the triumphant return! - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

[ website | My Website ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

I can in fact quit you: the triumphant return! [May. 7th, 2014|09:02 am]
Marissa Lingen
[Tags|, ]

I used to make posts about why I quit reading the books I quit reading, and a couple people have poked me about doing another one, so here we are! Why I have quit on various books lately!


1. Stereotyping of thin big-breasted women as stupid. At least, I think that’s what he was, like, saying? I dunno. He, like, used some kinda big words? and there weren’t any men (or flat-chested ladies or fat ladies or non-binary persons) around for me to ask? so I had to put the rully rully hard book down. FOREVER.


2. If you want to compose a novel by putting a prose poem on each page, make sure it’s a good prose poem. A bad prose poem per page = a bad novel. (A good prose poem per page might still = a bad novel, but at least you have a shot at it.)


3. If you have to pick a subculture to endure forever, despite major (MAJOR) social upheaval and major (SERIOUSLY MAJOR) technological change, make it something more fun than whiny pretentious hipsters. Complete with the word “hipster” meaning identically what it means now.


4. Pacing. Pacing, pacing, pacing. And more pacing. When people talk about something needing to be faster-paced, they don’t actually mean that it needs to have a fight scene or a sex scene closer to the opening of the book. Sometimes they mean that something central to what is going on needs to happen closer to the opening of the book, but if the action (of whatever kind) is not central to what is going on–or you don’t have any reason to know that it is–that’s not going to help. No matter how many action verbs a scene has, it can bog down the pacing of a book if it seems irrelevant.


4b. More pacing. Putting more things central to what is going on towards the start of the book does not actually fix all pacing problems, or even most pacing problems. Starting with an opening that goes whiz-bang-boom is only a good idea if your book goes whiz-bang-boom. You’re allowed to have a quieter, slower-paced book. Having a quieter, slower-paced book that you have set up to go whiz-bang-boom at the beginning is going to give me whiplash.


5. When I said my tolerance for sexual violence in SFF was pretty low, I really meant it.


6. When I said my tolerance for sexual violence in SFF was pretty low, I did not mean “so you should give me a protagonist who merely pretends to rape people, who lets his friends assume he has raped them in the next room but does not actually do the raping. NOT HELPFUL, DUDE. NEXT.


7. Addiction does not fascinate me the way it does some people. After about the twentieth consecutive page of how much someone wants a fix, I am ready to read about something else, particularly if the book purported to be about something else. No matter how future-cool you think the drug you came up with is.


8. Zombies + Mris = no. There are a few exceptions to this. Vanishingly, vanishingly few.


9. Making sweeping statements in works of nonfiction about What Repressed Homersekshuls Do is bad enough. But when you are also arguing that the historical figure in question has had same-sex affairs with everyone of their sex they come across, you may wish to consult a dictionary regarding the meaning of the word “repressed” and rethink how much these theories apply.


10. If you are going to claim in a work of nonfiction that an historical figure has molested another historical figure (who was a child at the time), you need some kind of footnote. Seriously. Citation of some kind. This is a major allegation. I understand that sexual abuse is hard enough to prove in a court of law with the actual involved parties on hand, much less a hundred years or more after the fact. But you should be able to complete the following sentence: “I believe this because ________.” Biographers are not speaking ex cathedra. Your claims can, should, will be evaluated. If you have better evidence than “I have taken a dislike to this historical figure,” it really behooves you to produce it. Really, there is behooving here.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-05-07 04:37 pm (UTC)
There were comments here! Administrative weird! Your comments were not deliberately deleted! Argh, lj!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ellarien
2014-05-07 05:28 pm (UTC)
As it happens, I still had a tab open with the comments page showing four comments. Would you like a screencap?

(There were briefly two versions of the post in my feed, one with comments and one not.)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-05-07 06:12 pm (UTC)
Please, if you could post it here; I don't want the people who commented and got replies to feel shut down if at all possible.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ellarien
2014-05-07 09:21 pm (UTC)


(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: diatryma
2014-05-08 02:49 am (UTC)
I have called that the, "I have a point, I promise!" beginning. From Legally Blonde.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2014-05-10 05:37 pm (UTC)
Weird, indeed! Also the URL of the post changed; it used to be 902054.html, and I was confused where it went when I tried to reload it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: redbird
2014-05-07 05:36 pm (UTC)
I like the phrasing "Really, there is behooving here." Which is separate from very much agreeing with it in this context.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2014-05-07 06:15 pm (UTC)
10. If you are going to claim in a work of nonfiction that an historical figure has molested another historical figure (who was a child at the time), you need some kind of footnote.

And in a fiction book that "seamlessly" weaves fiction into facts -- like Alice I Have Been . Well, more than a footnote, really. Much more. Or maybe, don't do it at all.

(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-05-07 06:19 pm (UTC)
Don't do it at all, what a concept! What a notion!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: brithistorian
2014-05-07 06:20 pm (UTC)
8. Right here with you on this. Please, please, please let the zombie craze die out soon!

10. Biography is a problematic genre for me. It's a lot like history, but it isn't history. I think a lot of the recent discussions of the nature of "truth" and "nonfiction" with regard to memoir could profitably be extended to include biography as well. Above and beyond that, though, this sounds like a "Napoleon is Turkish" problem (one of my history professors said "You can tell me Napoleon was Corsican without needing to footnote it, but if you try telling me he was actually Turkish, you'd better have some damn impressive footnotes").
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-05-07 06:32 pm (UTC)
So...I think for me one of the crucial things with memoir is that people are saying, "This is me, this is my story, this is what I remember." And other people can say, "Well, your story overlaps with my story, or with recorded history, and I can demonstrate that what you remember is wrong." That doesn't even have to be malicious. Our memories--everyone's memories--are slippery and unreliable things. Even when we remember the same event, the spin we put on it can be radically different.

But biography takes that and turns up the dial. Because the biographer can say, "This is what Historical Personage X wrote in a letter, this was what they remembered." But they don't even actually know that it's what they remembered. Biographer knows that it's what they were claiming. But biographer also knows that people lie in letters all the time. So "trust but verify" comes into play right away. They're not consulting their own internal truth. They're consulting external sources right away, and they need confirmation right away. So I think it's a lot more like history than you're giving it credit for--or at least it should be.

I think the pitfall is that people can overidentify with their subject--but that's true in history too. You get historians who have decided that Athens/Venice/the Han/Brave Little Finland can do no wrong, and whose history warps because of it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: brithistorian
2014-05-07 07:22 pm (UTC)
Done right, biography is very much like history. But even when done right, I think you reach a point where the biographer has to start trying to access the inner life of their subject. It creates a second possible point of failure. The first point is, as you state, does the biography match up with known historical fact? (Or if not, can you prove that "known historical fact" is actually mistaken?) Then the second point is the look and feel test - does your Napoleon seem compatible with the generally accepted idea of Napoleon? Or if not, can you convince us that the generally accepted idea of Napoleon is mistaken?

As for memoir... it's messier. I think you're still starting at a point of "trust but verify." The memoirist is saying "This is what I remember," but as a reader I'm saying "No, this is what you're telling me you remember" and I've got to decide if I feel I can trust you or not. Then if I come across something that's either a contradiction of known historical fact or just rings false, I had decide: Do I believe that you're write and known historical fact is wrong? Do I think you're having an unconscious memory lapse? Or do I think you're trying to pull a fast one on me?

In general (there are exceptions on both sides, of course), I tend to trust biographers more than I trust memoirists.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: auriaephiala
2014-05-07 06:58 pm (UTC)
This is one reason why I trust your reviews -- you have the same dislikes and expectations of quality that I do.

And please no more zombies...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sprrwhwk
2014-05-08 01:39 am (UTC)
Stereotyping of thin big-breasted women as stupid.

I have never understood this. So they're are going to elevate this as The Standard of Beauty(tm) and then denigrate women adhering to it. And then wonder why people don't like them. ...Straight men. What we gonna do with 'em. (Not all, some of my best, others too, &c.)

When I said my tolerance for sexual violence in SFF was pretty low, I did not mean “so you should give me a protagonist who merely pretends to rape people, who lets his friends assume he has raped them in the next room but does not actually do the raping.

Note to [redacted], gender-swapping this doesn't make it better.

If you have to pick a subculture to endure forever, despite major (MAJOR) social upheaval and major (SERIOUSLY MAJOR) technological change, make it something more fun than whiny pretentious hipsters. Complete with the word “hipster” meaning identically what it means now.

This feels like the kind of thing I would read socially while drinking and mocking, so I'm almost curious what it is. Sadly my friends with whom I would do that moved to San Francisco, so we would have to do it over the Internet somehow, like the hipsters we are.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: thanate
2014-05-08 02:06 am (UTC)
Sadly my friends with whom I would do that moved to San Francisco, so we would have to do it over the Internet somehow, like the hipsters we are.

Some of my college friends had a passtime of collecting dirt cheap library booksale romance novels and passing them around with a pen. Burning eyes ignited buildings, sex scenes turned into unexpected decapitations ("She threw back her head...and it rolled across the floor"), and running jokes of a less destructive nature were introduced all over the place.

Not quite the same as in-person readings, but easier to do by mail. :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-05-08 02:28 am (UTC)
All those caveats are important, yah.

And seriously, the particular book I quit reading had a male behaving that way, but gender-swapping fixes nothing here. NOTHING.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: thanate
2014-05-08 02:12 am (UTC)
This is lovely, and unlike the book posts, it does not tempt me to go check out more books I'll never get around to reading.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wordweaverlynn
2014-05-08 02:51 pm (UTC)
I'm dying to know what book(s) prompted #9 and #10.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: thoughtdancer
2014-05-08 02:52 pm (UTC)
One of my frustrations: if you could tell your story as a drama, but decided to make it SFF just to get that audience, then sorry, not interested.

In other words, the SFF elements have to be organic / integral to the story itself.

(I mainly have been coming across this in space opera stuff, when the long travel times are shallow stand-ins for the 1700's and the tall ships era. If nothing in the story explores an idea that necessitates SFF, then move the story to drama or historical fiction or something so that the story feels more organic to the constraints it exists in.)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mamapduck
2014-05-09 05:43 pm (UTC)
I kind of want to know what #6 is so I can never, ever read it. He's the PROtagonist? PRO? As in, "the good guy?" My head, she has 'sploded.
(Reply) (Thread)