09 August 2006

Don't Even Bother

Slow Burn by Julie Garwood – I should have known from the title (although it was only after I checked out the book from the library that I learned that “slow burn” is a purple prose phrase). I thought it was going to be a mystery type of some sort. Turns out to be a romantic suspense, which I’m generally not into. The dialogue is prosaic. The list of characters are unreal: three gorgeous sisters (the descriptions fitting of supermodels), one of which began a lucrative business in college (or before college even?), another is finishing up her residency after med school, and the third is a musical prodigy. The best friend designed her own computer chip and is now a direct-from-college millionaire (or rather rich, at least). Within the first 50 pages: the mother of the three had died. A long lost grandfather is about to bestow upon them family inheritance of old money variety. One of the characters survives a bomb at an art gallery. Her best friend discovers a lump in her breast (which, in light of the fact that no testing had been done yet and most breast lumps are not cancerous and completely benign, seemed trumped up in drama) and is being sued. Don’t bother. At that point, I put the book down. With so much tragedy, I wasn’t sure of the point of the book.
Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin – This book has the opposite problem. Highly descriptive language. Tedious, even. I know every inch of the random fat woman the main character encounters at a gas station. I know her life story. I know what kind of dog she has and how she treats the dog. I know what she was wearing and how it fit her. I know what kind of candy she favors. I know what kind of perfume she sports and how she applies it. I know that she prostitutes on the side with the truckers. I know that she makes bad coffee. She was a prop at a five-minute pit stop, for goodness sake. Give me a break! After 70 pages of this book, I still had no idea what the book is supposed to be about.
I have recently given my self permission to not finish books that suck. I put my new rule into practice with both of these books. Some may argue that I would have grown attached had I stuck with it. Not the point. Such deficient beginnings promise little for the whole. As a musician, I was taught that no matter what, you don’t mess up the beginning of the piece or the end. Flutter in the middle, if you must. Maybe I’ll try picking up Wrapped again sometime. I was hopeful about that one.
These books made me appreciate other “newer” reads, such as Beneath a Marble Sky and Handling Sin. Ah, well, back to my classics. Tried and true.


Robin said...

It's nice to know not only what NOT to read, but WHY. I had to smile when I read this post because with some books, I take the posture that they are not going to "beat me"...I WILL endure to the end, no matter how difficult. Then, again, I'm talking non-fiction here, and many of the authors I read are well above my head, so I s t r e t c h myself to get through them.

But, fiction? It's supposed to be enjoyable! So, I applaud your decision to permit yourself NOT to finish sucky books :). I won't be ready any of the above, thanks to YOU!

Erin said...

I aspire to your higher state of literary descrimination. I'm still lingering in the camp of I-must-read-each-and-every-page-because-I'm-just-sure-there-has-to-be-some-reason-a-publisher-went-to-all-the-effort-to-publish-this-thing. Especially-if-it's-in-hardback.

Heather said...

Wow. That's alotta hyphens. That shows determination in typing.
I was just denied by my own word verification. What is this world coming to?