Back to the library we go. This week I withdrew four books:
One Way Out by Michele Albert
The Memory of Water by Karen White
You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen
The Writing Class by Jincy Willett
I am not looking to be a book critic. Well, I am, but being that I write books, I don’t think it’s appropriate to criticize other authors. I don’t know why, since I think it’s perfectly fine to ooh and aah over authors I like. I guess I’m channeling Thumper’s mother. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
So keeping that in mind, I will tell you that I’ve started two of these books. I made it to page 24 in one, before I put it down and started one of the others because I found myself bogged down in detail. Potentially interesting detail, I suppose, and I may go back and finish it, but I’m going to put it on hold and see how the other three are.
I’m on page 75 in book #2. Although I do believe it’s billed as romantic adventure and it’s sort of an unusual premise, something happened around page 60 that is always a turn-off for me: unbelievable male dialogue. In this case, about 15 pages of male dialogue between two male colleagues (hey, at least they’re in a bar drinking beer) about women, relationships, emotions, motivations. One line at least was so flowery, I came close to throwing the book across the room. Instead I heaved a huge sigh as I often do and thought to myself, “Men do not talk like this.”
This is a mistake I think female authors, especially romance authors often make. They want to get a male point of view across to the reader so you’ll understand his motivation and behavior. They do it through dialogue, but mistakenly, they think men express themselves the same way women do. Or maybe they simply wish men would talk like women, spilling their guts at the drop of a hat. Maybe that’s what female readers of romance novels want as well. Maybe the agents are female and so are the editors and they never notice how unrealistic much of the male dialogue is. Or it doesn’t bother them. For some reason it bothers me. A lot.
I grew up with a seldom there father whose approach to dialogue was less is more. He could get a point across in one sentence. He didn’t need paragraph upon paragraph. The upshot of that being, his rather quiet eloquence held meaning and depth and stuck with you. I was the only girl in the family with three brothers. I’ve been married for thirty years and I have a son. I think I can speak to the manner in which male dialogue differs from female dialogue. Not that it hasn’t been scientifically documented by specialists who study such things. So unrealistic male dialogue will be the one thing I’ll remember out of an otherwise great book or movie. A turn-off for me.
I may go back and finish this book as well. For now, I’m putting it down to look at one of the others. Or maybe both.
For the record, I read the book by that famous author I’d never read before which I mentioned in the last Picky Reader blog. And I’m going to say, for the record, I don’t get this author’s popularity although the book I read was decently written. I’m surprised, however, that at least four of the characters weren’t done in by botulism about three quarters of the way through. Maybe if I’d started at the beginning of this series, I’d have cared about these characters. Maybe I’d have been caught up in their quest. But I stand by my opinion that any book in a series should be able to stand on its own.
I can’t argue with this author’s popularity. He’s sold a lot of books. But was there anything in this book to make me pick up another one of his? Nope.
I was also struck by the rather bland writing. Simplistic. Maybe that’s the word I’m looking for. Maybe that’s why he’s so popular. Simple words. Simple plots. Easy reads. No cliffhanger chapter endings, either. Unusual for a spy story, but that’s his style and based on his book sales, it works exceptionally well. I’m sure he’ll get by just fine without me as a fan.
At 12:15 last night I finished You’re Not You (by Michelle Wildgen). Yay for me! (I found a book that held my interest and I finished it.) Yay for Michelle Wildgen. This is her first novel. I enjoyed it and I’d recommend it.
Later I’ll check out book number four and see if I can hang in there with it. Otherwise, I’ll revert to one of the other two I already started. But right now, I have to go work on my own book. It’s a lovely rainy day, so it’s a good day to write.
I finished The Memory of Water and enjoyed it. It reminded a bit of Kristy Kiernan’s first book, Catching Genius.
Then I picked up the romance novel again and almost finished it, but I realized all four of my books were due back at the library on 4/8. Oops. Yesterday morning I flipped through the last quarter of that book. The great thing about romance novels is you know you’re going to get a happy ending, so if you don’t read every last detail, it’s okay. Although I would have preferred to read it all.
Book number four, which is the first one I started, I did not finish. L But that’s the way it goes. I paid my $4.25 fine—grrr—I hate to pay a fine for a book I didn’t even read—and took out four more books:
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
Bobbie Faye’s Very (very, very, very)Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey
Los Angeles by Peter Moore Smith
The Dangerous Husband by Jane Shapiro
Until next time…