This is an interesting couple of weeks for me in the world of books. I finished writing and editing one, and have literally put it on the shelf for a few weeks. I need a short break from it before I rewrite it, oh I dunno, about three more times. Plus I'm querying the one-before-this-book, and of course, always finding things to fix every time I print it up. I'm taking a bit of a break to soak up some reading.
Just for the sake of my sanity (Ha ha. Wha?) I need to step away from writing. I need to read some other people's words.
I usually have a book and two magazines going at once, and my reading is always a combination of pure joy and reseach. So in the name of research I decided to read some books that have fallen into my hands recently that I wouldn't have normally picked up.
It didn't work out so well.
I rarely leave a book half read. Until this last couple of weeks...
First try: Runaway Jury by John Grisham.
I got four chapters in before I decided to cut my losses and walk away from this one. Four chapters of jury selection. There was nothing really wrong with it, technically speaking. I don't remember seeing any terrible grammar mistakes, at least not with my loose grip on grammar. It just didn't get my attention.
Although I was slightly curious about Juror #58, aka Juror #2, a young man with a very bland past who apparently wants to be on the jury --wtf?-- it wasn't enough to keep me turning pages. I had a very hard time getting interested in a bunch of lawyers and corporate suits and all of their little games for picking a jury who will....
Geez I can't even finish the paragraph, I'm so bored.
Second try: Second Chance by Danielle Steel.
I'm trying to remember now if I've ever been able to finish reading one of her books.
I always chalked it up to not being able to relate to her. I mean, look at her.
She's fabulous. She even has her own perfume. I'm guessing it smells like money. And silk. And roses.
And look at me. I'm hickulous and ridiculous. If I had my own perfume it would be a heady comination of pine shavings, horse manure, and hay, with subtle undertones of laundry soap and a top note of Burt's Bees Milk and Honey Hand and Body lotion.
Seriously, I just didn't get it. It's written in a very even tone, with a lot of commas, a lot of lists of attributes, clothing styles, even when the subject changes, commas, as opposed to a semi-colon, but always there are more descriptions of how fabulous everybody is.
They are all fabulous, they are fashionable and wealthy. She is fabulous, the nice man she has a nagging attraction to is fabulous, as is her house man who borrows her Manolo Blahnik sandals, he is fabulous. Her house is fabulous, full of expensive treasures, always hosting the best parties that often last all night. Fabulous. Run on fabulous.
After five chapters I was choking on fabulosity and nothing had really happened, other than a photo shoot which was, of course, both disastrous and fabulous.
Black Creek Crossing by John Saul.
I actually managed to finish this one but I will admit that I sort of skimmed some of it. I never do that. I feel kind of ashamed of myself. But hey, I read it to the end.
I forced myself to stay with it for one main reason: It centres around a couple of teenagers. Because my most recent piece of work is about teenagers, I want to read more books like it. I'm not sure, now that mine is finished, if it's really for the age group that it's about.
This book is not aimed at the teenage reader.
The kids don't converse like real teens. They don't much act like real teens either.
There is way too much going on with the adults in the story. Young readers don't give a crap about grownups. If they want to read about grownups, they'll read something off the Bestseller rack instead of the Young Adult rack.
Also there's no sex. Other than a suggestion of it in early in the story but it has nothing to do with the plot and is (urgh, yuck, retch, omigawd gross) between two parents.
This book isn't aimed at a teenage audience, despite having teens as main characters. It was a good exercise for me to make this definition.
I found a few problems with this book. I thought the characters were very one-dimensional.
- alcoholic father who is always in a rotten mood, hates everybody, and cusses all the time.
- long suffering mother who believes that her drunken good for nuthin husband is her cross to bear, and is such a good catholic that she crosses herself every few minutes while praying to the saints.
- shy girl who never looks anybody in the eye. Ever.
It's hard to care about these exaggerated stereotypes.
It took ages and pages to get the whole story rolling. I wanted to quit reading many times. What hooked my interest was the ancient haunted house itself. Is it good if the house is the most interesting character?
I was also confused by the supernatural elements in the story. I've read enough fantasy to know that the magic has to have a structure of rules to be believable. I'm really not sure how the supernatural/ witchcraft/ haunted system all worked in this story.
Having cracked these comments about these three books...
They must be doing something right.
John Grisham doesn't have to make his living at lawyering anymore because he's sold a couple of books, which got made into a couple of movies.
Danielle Steel, other than being fabulous and having, like, seven or eight or nine children, has found the time to write-- are you ready for this--SIXTY TWO novels!!! Although by this year that number's likely gone up. I mean, with having raised all those people and still getting all those words out there...I must admire this woman for her work ethic alone.
And John Saul has written over thirty novels.
This tells me that whether I appreciate their work or not, they are writing books that sell. And this really just confuses me more than ever.