Monday, December 13, 2004

It hurt me...but then I got better

What is it with publishers? Why is it the review quotes that they choose to put on the covers of books always make me want to throw the book across the room rather than part with $15 to buy the damned thing?

Today I went to the library (god bless libraries!) to get this month's book group selection (For Kings and Planets by Ethan Canin) and found this quote on the cover: "Shimmering...luminous...For Kings and Planets leaves you wounded and healed." This comment (from the NY Times) does not fill me with confidence.

I do not wish my books to wound me. I mean if they are going to wound me, it's very considerate of them to heal me as well, but I really don't want to be wounded, thanks all the same. I want my books to entertain me, make me laugh, make the think, take me away from my world and show me another world. But I do not want them to wound me.

I am, however, comforted by the fact that this book is hardly likely to wound me. I seem to be invulnerable to book reviews. I have yet to have my life affirmed by any book described as "life-affirming." Novels practically guaranteed to change me have yet to do more than make me nauseous. And anything that has the word "moving" in any of the chosen review quotes usually means, as far as I'm concerned, pretentious and dull.

For Kings and Planets has another quote that describes it as: "Masterful...a classic parable of the human condition."

Um...what exactly is the human condition? I've never been able to figure that out. Perhaps after reading this book and deciphering the parable I'll be able to understand what the human condition is, but truly I'm mystified. Various other novels have been touted as "touching on," "commenting on," "explaining," "challenging" and otherwise denting the ever-present human condition, and yet here I am, thousands of books later and still none the wiser about what this damned condition is. You'd think, as a human, that I should know this. In fact you'd think, as a human, it would be a requirement for membership in the homo sapien club. And yet here I sit, clueless about the human condition.

I think that's why I like animals so much. Animals rarely, if ever, have enough pretention to refer to an exploration of the "canine condition," or the "avian condition."

Plots, dammit, I want plots, not "a breathtaking commentary" on anything.

Why can't people write anymore?

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