Thursday, October 3, 2013

Truth: What's in a bad read?

As a writer, I feel compelled to do a lot of reading.  Specifically, I have tried to keep up with the recent trends in writing.  No, I haven't read any sparkly vampire novels.  I don't plan to, either.  But within the last few months, I have read some Sophie Kinsella, some popular non-fiction, and a few up-and-coming Christian authors.  I've also read Clyde Edgerton and Eudora Welty lately, just to balance out trend with true talent and greatness.

I had become aware of a semi-local author, though, who had done extremely well (and shall remain nameless).  I had never read any of her work.  I figured that I should, just in case I ever have the chance to meet her, so I can say, "Oh, I really enjoyed your novel, (whatever title here), and it had a profound impact on the way I see blah blah."  The reason I had never read her work was because it's all just mainstream paperback read-on-the-beach type stuff.  It's not the kind of thing college kids study in English classes.  But I thought there had to be some redeeming quality, since she has made it to the "top," so to speak, in sales.  Like a good student, I embarked upon a quest to find out what that redeeming quality was.

I downloaded one of her books to my Kindle Fire.  

I began to read.

It was horrible.  I mean, it was really, really bad.  The dialogue was extremely contrived.  The characters were completely annoying.  The circumstances were laughably unrealistic and unlikely.  I can't even fathom who her readers are.  This woman must be a fantastic marketer, or at least better at marketing than she is at writing.  I made it to the second or third page, then I just chalked up the dollars I'd spent as a lesson learned.  After that, I felt like I needed a shower, and a whole lot of Fannie Flagg and Flannery O'Connor to bring me back.

So what's the lesson?  That writing junk will make you millions?

Yuck.  I'll make my millions another way, thank you.  Pass the Rick Bragg, please, so I can get back to some good reading.

Have you ever been abysmally disappointed in a book purchase?  If it's my book, please don't tell me about it.