In recent years I have lost the reading bug, being married means I have other things to do at night than curl up with a good book. For instance, making lunches and doing the washing up. As a result, I have to be more particular with which novel I pick up. There may be plenty of problems with The Da Vinci Code, but it did something Captain Corelli’s Mandolin couldn’t. Make me want to turn the page, and that is a key factor for a book getting its teeth into me.
I read Life of Pi, and I am told it is a well-written book, but I thought it was rubbish. It won literary prizes but nothing happened, or if it did, I missed it. For me this is the greatest crime any book can commit, to be boring. It helps if it is fun, but some of my favourite books (like The Book Thief or Hey Nostradamus) are oppressive. They still wanted me to finish them because they had a real bite from page one that refused to let go.
This is the problem, I’m not a fan of books that explore the deep hidden truths of what makes the human spirit, or any of that similar nonsense excitedly lapped up by book prize judges. As a fan of genre writing I am constantly frustrated that there are some amazing writers that are ignored, just because they write fantasy (thinking of China Mieville here, it’s a literary-crime that none of his novels have won outside of the geeks award circle).
All the time I am being preached at, told how crap the world is out there. Entertain me like a Roman Emperor looking down on a father who will get his revenge in one of many worlds. I want action, or fun, or just something that resembles forward momentum. I don’t care if it is hard to read because it is so literary. I’ve read Nobel literature winners (seriously Jose Saramago is amazing) so this isn’t about being an adjective snob, it’s about stories that have little narrative. If I can read the synopsis of your book on Wikipedia and it still bores me, then I will not invest in reading your 300 page novel.
To help me avoid the boring books the publishing industry has helpfully created a category to allow me to avoid them, they called it the MAN Booker Prize.
Rather than sitting here moaning, I should get my fingers sorted and start writing a novel. The question then arises what kind of story would I write? Will it be a deeply layered mythos like Middle Earth or Bas-Lag? A modern sci-fi parable about the dangers of science or a fantastical hero’s journey across ancient lands? A 500 page novel of danger and thrills, or a 300 comedy?
They say you should write what you know.
So coming soon to all good bookstores…”My life behind the screen”. The tale of a man who sits on his computer all day hoping to write a great piece of fiction that will make him millions, but puts it off and is far too easily distracted by cricket and girls. That sounds so dull and boring… perhaps I have a chance of winning the MAN Booker prize.