What do it mean?

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rocketscientist
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What do it mean?

Postby rocketscientist » Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:55 am

I just forced myself to finish a book I didn't like becuase it was well written. What does this mean? And what do I say about it?

I've read a number of poorly written books that have somehow held my attention, perhaps because the plot was good, or the characters were compelling. Of course, I've read the odd book that simply blew me away on all fronts: well crafted, intriguing plot, excellent characterization. But I've rarely seen a book that was well crafted, with well developed characters and a reasonable plot that I just could have cared less for.

I'm in a quandary.

After having forced myself to finish Jay Lake's Trial of Flowers I was only irritable.

Let me explain. It is beautifully crafted. The writing style, while a bit baroque, was fluid and easy to read. His use and understanding of arcane language was inspiring. The opening papgraphs about spontaneously combusting Lindon trees drew me right in - with a few deft strokes of his writerly art he made me care about these trees. And therein lay the rub. In the end, the trees were the only thing I cared about in the whole book.

As I said, the characters were well drawn and clear, but they just didn't matter to me. It wasn't that they were grotesque (which they were) or even the fact that they were unlikable. I was intrigued by Micheal Kerney from Light, and that's about as grotesque and unlikeable as you can get.

I guess at the end of the day I was uninvolved in the story. I didn't care about the main characters, or the fate of the City Imperishable (even though it revealed some interesting twists), and when the plot played out, I wasn't even surprised although it had some unexpected turns.

So here I am left asking myself, "Why didn't I like this book?" Maybe, despite the uncompelling but well crafted atmosphere, the clear and fantastical descriptive prose, and the literary style, it was the torture. By the time I got to that (early on in the book) I wondered why I was doing this to myself. *sigh*

All that said, I will look into reading another Jay Lake book - he's an incredibly prolific writer with the ablitily to use different styles. So I will see if some of his near future Texas wizards do something more for me.

Till next time!

Kathryn

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rocketscientist
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Postby rocketscientist » Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:59 pm

Oops - I think I posted this in the wrong forum. Going to take it to reviews now.

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Windwalker
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Postby Windwalker » Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:59 pm

That has happened to me, too -- a few times with authors whom I know, which makes the situation difficult. I used to read every book to the end. These days, to save time, brainspace and emotional tear, I stop reading the moment I find my jaw clenching (don't want to crack them fillings!).

Sometimes it's a matter of mood, like craving a certain type of food. If a book falls in that category, I usually finish it when I'm in a different state of mind. The hardest ones are those I feel I should like (I enjoyed others by the same author, everyone says this is a great book, I was interested at the outset...) or those that are "almost but not quite".

In the end, a book has to engage me in terms of both plot and characters, otherwise I'm left with a frustrating sense of truncation, lack of fulfillment. I haven't read this particular book by Jay Lake, I've only read a few of his short stories, so I'm curious to hear further verdicts.

As one last note, I have been reading less fiction as I've gotten older. It may be true that there are only so many stories to tell, although innnovative style and compelling characters are always interesting. It's encouraging that I still find the occasional dazzler that draws me in. I have also discovered that well-written, well-researched non-fiction can be both stranger and more daring than its fictional counterpart.
For I come from an ardent race
That has subsisted on defiance and visions.

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rocketscientist
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Postby rocketscientist » Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:01 pm

Very true about non-fiction!


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