Since blogging in August 2013, I’ve read novels and put forth my comments. I’ve been direct – complementary or derogatory. It something is unreadable, I’ll say that.
But this morning I put down a novel (more than 500 pages), and I am reminded of Mark Twains purported evaluation of Henry James’s novels: Once you’ve put down one of his novels, you can’t pick it up.
I won’t identify the novelist or her first novel. The subject matter is something I’ve thoroughly versed with – a student going to college in a strange place. Chapter One is long and slow. Ten pages into it I realized it was common stuff. Not a lot happened – dialogue, descriptions, action – by page 20. But I recognized the source. It was obvious that this author had kept a journal in college and had devoted pages to the mundane as most journals and diaries are. This author had replicated in the book the journal conversations she had tediously recorded as a fresh student.
If an author will write about a character who is boring, dull, mundane and ordinary, the author ought not to show those traits by being prosaic with the writing. It must be poetry (Lennie, Of Mice and Men). It is entirely possible that this author did not fully understand how the traits of the character might be perceived. That is a failure of the author’s, of editors and of the publisher; it should be noted in criticism. Stumbling along writing characters in common, everyday speech is not the way to do it. Fiction does partly reflect reality, but an author has to make up the language as she proceeds. The author does not get to literature by inserting every sentence ever uttered, remembered for a journal and put into a novel. However, that’s what this author seems to have done, and she should have been more wary. She states a fact that reveals the character is a moron. In the first 20 pages she mentions that the character took Geometry during his senior year of high school. Geometry is a high school freshman or sophomore course.
So I quit this novel before being insulted more. I had to put it down and quit it forever. I’ll be suspicious of anything more from this author. Fortunately there was no expense. I borrowed it from a library where I gladly returned it.