Thursday, February 02, 2006

January Books has its Cool New Books for January page up. Blackthorn Winter by Kathryn Reiss jumped out at me because it is so the kind of book I would have read when I was a teenager. Yeah, I was definitely drawn to murder back then.

What's A Reader To Do?

Speaking of murder, I just finished reading an adult murder mystery that was just terrible. Terrible I tell you. It got a good review in the local paper. When will I learn not to fall for those things?

What made the book so awful was the point-of-view. It was all over the place. Sometimes you were reading a first-person hard-boiled detective story, then you'd shift to a third person who was clearly a bad guy, though was he the bad guy? Then sometimes you'd jump to the mind of a female cop. And sometimes you'd go back in time to the third person point-of-view of the hard-boiled detective when he was a kid.

The point-of-view shifts were so awkward and clunky that the author sometimes used italics to signal them and sometimes actually announced a new point-of-view with the name of the new character.

Oddly enough, the plot wasn't half bad. This could have been a good book.

Why didn't I just quit reading it since I have other books piled up all over the house waiting for my attention? Like so many readers, I find it hard to give up on a book, hard to admit I've wasted my time. I've managed to cut my losses on a few books recently, but I wasn't able to this time.

Reading this book, though, made me think of Louise Doughty's Novel in a Year column. In Week Two she said to read and analyze bad writing so you could avoid it yourself. In that case, the book I read was a textbook.

Speaking of A Novel In A Year

In her fourth week's column, Louise Doughty says, "But in the meantime, I want you to continue to write freely and enthusiastically. Some of you are carrying on with the “day after my eighth birthday…” story, which is terrific. Others are pursuing different ideas."

Ah...does that sound to anyone else as if I should have continued writing past the first few sentences I wrote in Week One? I thought I was supposed to wait for...something...I don't know what.

But after reading Week Four's column I actually started a new file for this project on my hard drive and wrote another couple of sentences. I guess that's sort of like writing "freely and enthusiastically."

Oh, That Curious Little Monkey!

Opinion Journal (from The Wall Street Journal has an intriguing article on Curious George. The movie will be out soon, and this article reminded me of the kinds of things we were seeing in the press before The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe movie was released.

Anyway, the author, John J. Miller, says, "Earnest literary types have interpreted the first book as a barely disguised slave narrative. Have you considered that the man's weird outfit could be a send-up of a colonial officer's uniform? Or that George is brown and lacks a tail? (Lots of monkeys are brown and most species have visible tails.) Or that he is abducted against his will from Africa and brought across the sea to a foreign land where he engages in high jinks when the master is away?"

Actually, no, I never considered any of that. But thanks for bringing it up.

And thanks to Book Moot for the link. Book Moot has become a favorite kidlit blog and will be joining my links on my sidebar when I get around to telling my computer guy to do it.


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