hypothetically speaking…

IF… and I’m not saying I have, I’m just saying if I had just finished reading a book that had been heralded as the next great literary thing, or words to that effect [the point being it was raved about excessively]… If such a book existed and I had just finished reading it and I found it, let’s say lacking to a great degree in literary greatness to the point where almost none was discernible [unless literary greatness translates into a few not entirely bad sentences and a few good ones]… if I’d just finished that book—in which the title character is essentially pointless, only occasionally and dismissively referred to, and who then dies and is referred to again down the road as a means of cueing the reader to recall the narrator’s bond with them and so trigger an emotional response [which doesn’t happen, BTW, because exactly zippity-do-dah in terms of a relationship has been developed between the two and frankly nobody cares that one of them is dead…]

…If I’d just read this book, in which, it should also be mentioned, that while written in first person, the narrator knows things inside people’s heads and other places she has not been—which annoys me more than this keyboard has letters to describe, given how hard I work and curse and revise to avoid just such sacrilege—and while we’re at it, the narrator’s dialogue is not consistent with her age, not to mention dull, not to mention one minute she’s an innocent and the next, though still the same age, she’s expounding on life in a way that suggests having spent the past century sitting cross-legged on a mountain-top in saffron robes…

…IF I had read such a book, a book that had been touted as a remarkable debut, in which not one shred of poetry exists, where even the imaginative is obvious [and just in case you still don’t get something, don’t worry, it’ll be spelled out in crayon somewhere down the road]; where countless unrelated events span decades haphazardly and pointlessly, leaving a nest of loose threads rather than any semblance of whole cloth; a book that reads like a bad movie in which darlings rule [we can only assume they amused the author too much to have them properly shot], where relationships are flat, and where—because apparently nobody stopped her—the author uses both ‘immediately’ and ‘suddenly’ in the same sentence…

had I read such a book—I would have slammed it shut and asked that age-old question: wtf?

For the record… it’s not the author I blame. It’s a good draft. But where was the editor? And how does a reputable house publish this, in this… this very good draft condition?

But here’s the real sixty-four thousand dollar question: how in all that’s decent does it not only get good reviews, but buzz in high places…?

I mean, if there was such a book. And I had just read it.

3 thoughts on “hypothetically speaking…

  1. I understand if you don’t want to name the book, but I just had to let you know I’m plotzing (Yiddish word, the onomatopoeic meaning of which should be apparent) to know. You can email me if you want.

  2. I can think of several books that fit this category for me, the really big ones that just leave you wondering if the people hyping it read a different book entirely…I am deeply curious about what book this is for you!

  3. As one of those who has long been a hyper in this book business, yours is an excellent warning to all surrounding the publication and marketing of books that we should never, ever forget the reader in the entire equation. If the reader’s experience is as unsatisfactory as yours has been in this case, then the editor, the publisher, the promotion dept. – and the author – have not done their jobs. They’ve totally disregarded the reader, and that’s not the way this business should operate.

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