Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Not a book review, just a long complaint about a book

The day Carrie Fisher died, I went to the public library to check out what books haven't been culled from both the fiction section and the memoir section. Even though I checked the online catalogue from my laptop at home, by the time I got there, someone had snapped them up (all two of them). So I wandered the fiction stacks after limping upstairs looking for something to help me regain my sense of humor, which has been missing since sometime in mid-autumn. A book with a hilarious title and an equally hilarious image of a woman with big hair and a cow ornament stuck in the curls pretty much dropped off the shelf and into my hands.

"This is the one," I muttered. "It will be funny, quick, forgettable, and light." (even the beautiful, dread-locked customer service rep at circulation laughed at the title and cover)

It did start off funny and light. And easy. At first, I found the narrator charming, her shenanigans adorable, the dilemmas she faced entertaining. But by page 60 or so, she started to grate on me. The novel seemed to be more like a series of vignette's that described increasingly unbelievable and stupid situations that were not at all interesting, clever, or even all that funny. And when my favorite character died on about page 83, I was more annoyed than sad. I clawed my way through to page 122 and gave up. (one of the Carrie Fisher books I put on hold is waiting for me, so I'll return this book and replace it with Carrie's.)

Here's a confession, though. I was reading this book through my cranky editor's point of view. I found every grammar error (though some of them may have been on purpose since the book is set in a place where grammar isn't King or Queen or even president-elect), every spot where the author hadn't done the most basic kind of research (WWF vs. WWE, the spelling of Hannibal Lecter's name, the basic premise of the Roadrunner cartoons), every "hefty" word that the author repeated too many times in too close proximity ("lump," for example), every sentence that could have been cut without losing the rhythm, every moment when the character betrayed, well, her own character and did something out of character ....

Other reviews of this novel have been kind, and the author has a series of books set in this little town that seem to be fairly successful. But I won't be revisiting this fictional place.

I read a lot fiction even though I also edit fiction, and sometimes I catch things other people may not catch, but I shelve my cranky editor if the story is good enough, funny enough, poignant enough, deep enough, if the characters take me by the hand and say, "Look in the mirror, and you'll see me standing next to you."

I don't like to write bad reviews, so I'm not going to post my review on Goodresds or Amazon or anywhere, and I won't name the author or title.

I thought writing this would make me feel less cranky, but it hasn't. So I'll do some chores, read a bit of a book full of Ray Bradbury interviews I forgot I received as a gift years ago, and then go pick up that Carrie Fisher book.