Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

More giving up!

There are a couple of memes going around the friendslist wherein people indicate which books on a list they have read and which they haven't finished reading. And in the, "Dance for me, monkeys!" school of lj posting, I just want to say: talk about it! Tell me why you didn't finish the ones you didn't finish! Did they bore you (and if so, how)? Confuse you (and if so, how)? Require returning to the library? Get left on a train or in a coffeehouse or an airport lounge or your cousin's backseat? Get dropped in the bath and rendered too crunkly to read? I'd far rather read why you didn't finish one book on one of those lists than have fifty of them marked whether you did without explanation.

And in the spirit of dancing for you, monkeys, I give you the reasons I have quit reading library books recently:

1. Chatty piece of nonfiction went from elementary to oversimplifying to flat-out wrong.

2. Point of view issues: the first-person omniscient is extremely difficult to carry off without making me run away, far away, very quickly. If you want to know what someone's aunt was doing at every second of every day, give a mechanism or don't use the first-person.

3. Total contempt for characters. On the author's part, not on my part. I read 50 pages and thought, "If she's so sure these people are all tiresome, petty people, what am I still doing here?"

4 (multiple examples). Mystery novels that started in the following format:
CLUNK: corpse.
CLUNK: some random trivia about our detective, such as her opinion on lima beans, Greenpeace, or the musical career of Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Sorry, folks, but, "Here is a dead body. Mary liked gorgonzola," is just not a way to get me into a book. Even though I like gorgonzola, and even though I have been known to bring it up more or less completely out of the blue (as a few people can attest from this weekend) if my need for gorgonzola overcomes my social filters. But I don't do it in fiction, is the difference.

I'm a little alarmed by this pattern showing up in more than one book. If I wasn't reading mystery novels with far better beginnings than this, I'd begin to think it was a genre convention and despair of my ability to ever write a mystery novel. As it is, it reminds me once again that I don't have book-selection protocols set up for picking mysteries the way I do for picking science fiction and/or fantasy novels. Not a surprise, since I've been working on the latter for much longer. I keep plugging away at it, but I'm not sure I'm seeing much progress.

5. Bad sex between characters. Bad sex can be all right if it's needed in context, but as the opening event of the book, I am going to need to see some reason why I should care about these people who, in this particular case of bad sex, don't care about each other. That context is going to be difficult to establish right out of the gate, there.

6. Main character is a shining gem among Philistines who do not truly understand the deep beauty of her soul but are interested in shallow, worldly things. No irony apparent. Next.

7. Author believes that beautiful imagery excuses her from making any sense whatsoever. Bad enough if I agreed with her on what images were beautiful.

There really are lots of good books I'm actually finishing; it's just that it doesn't take much time to discard the bad ones, or even just the ones that strike me wrong, so I can go through them rather quickly and send them back to the library with no harm done.

Also I have quit work on a particular short story for the time being and have picked up a different story in a different genre. It's going much better than the previous one. Hurrah for quitting.
Tags: i can in fact quit you
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