Thursday, December 06, 2007

No wonder people don't read any more...

Have you seen the New York Times list of the 100 notable books of 2007? No? Here's my advice....if you like interesting books, an old-fashioned "thumping good read", and an enjoyable way to spend a rainy evening....don't read this list!

I swear the descriptions of the plots in these books reads like some parody of modern literature. Who would want to read this stuff? Here are a few samples:

- "A tale of two sisters, one awake all night, one asleep for months." Gosh, bet that's a page-turner.
- "A first novel about an Ethiopian exile in Washington, D.C., evokes loss, hope, memory and the solace of friendship." I'm a sucker for any book that evokes loss. Especially when it also evokes the solace of friendship!
- "A young woman searches for the truth about her parentage amid the snow and ice of Lapland in this bleakly comic yet sad tale of a child’s futile struggle to be loved." Oh God, not another "growing up lonely in Lapland" book. Haven't we had enough?
- "A Russian World War II veteran posthumously acquaints his stepdaughter with his grim past of rape and violence." Prozac not included.
- "The small-town regulars at Lucy’s Tavern carry their loneliness in “rough and beautiful” ways." Silly me, I carry my loneliness in a lovely quilted bag.
- "In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude." Hmmm....someone should introduce him to that lonely Lapp kid.

People, remember books that were fun to read? Full of interesting, lively characters doing fascinating things? Not "searching for the truth behind the brutal injustice of growing up left-handed in Zambia" fascinating but "hunting the bad guys, falling in love, searching for treasure, laughing with friends, living a real, normal life" fascinating.

I have absolutely NO desire to read any of these books. I long for the day when writers realize that "important" doesn't have to equal "dreary". It IS possible to write literate, poetic books with plots that make you want to stay up late -- rather than make you want to throw the book across the room.


Anonymous said...

I read through that list, and some sounded interesting... until I read the reviews... and I came to the conclusion that at least 50 of the 100 were written by writers writing about writers and writing. As much as I love writers (you know who you are!), I don't actually want to read novels about how hard it is to write novels. Much as I have no desire to see yet another movie about the wacky process of making movies. I also have no desire to see movies or read stories about the wacky software/hardware engineers in Silicon Valley.

Fo said...

I agree. We've all heard the advice to "write what you know," but that well-meaning guideline has been warped into a deluge of people writing about themselves, trying to work out their own little issues in the guise of telling a story. Well guess what, Mr. Debut Novel, I don't wanna be your psychoanalyst. Not unless you're gonna pay me $100 an hour, which is about how long it takes me to get through a page of most contemporary novels (zzzzz...)

I'm sorry, was that bitchy? :-p