Just One More Try

I just finished a book that doesn’t unseat THE WORST BOOK I’VE EVER READ, but it does come close. These lost hours make me wonder how many chances I should give an author before banishing them from my thoughts forever.

Kindle makes this decision tough. I can’t resist cheap books and so I downloaded this last one for a couple of dollars. It’s the author’s first–there are four more–and since I have some contact online with the author, I wanted to sample their work. The writing is serviceable, there is no elegance to the prose, there is also no character growth. There is some conflict but it doesn’t come until the book is 80% over. There is sex. As Lizzy says of Mr. Collins’s conversation, there is plenty of it to be had. Unfortunately, like the rest of the book, it too is boring. (I don’t like to read sexually explicit books as the images tend to migrate to other areas of my life. I was grateful that these scenes were so clinical and cringe-inducing that skipping was a pleasure.)

My recent rule-of-thumb is to give a writer about 50 pages and if I’m not hooked by then, so long. I gave this author the whole enchilada because I know them and was curious. As usual, I learned a lot. Bad books teach you a lot of things that good books don’t.

I’m not inclined to read anymore of this author’s work. The genre is one I’m not crazy about, their writing is, as I said, serviceable, and I’m not sure I want to pay full price for other books on the chance that there is no improvement in craft.

Are you generous and hope to get in one the leading edge of an author who may be ragged right now but is going places? Or, like me, you figure you’ll take your lumps and move on?

I’m curious. Let me know.

Take care–Susan Kaye

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11 thoughts on “Just One More Try

  1. Laura Hile

    This book is cheap on Kindle? (Ah, the wonder of having an Amazon gift card. Instant gratification!)

    Trouble is, I’m so busy these days that I listen to books on CD while I drive or do housework. Ha, for writing how-to books I let the Creepy Kindle Man read the text aloud.

    He manages to pronounce most of the words right.

    Well. Thanks to this post, my curiosity and twisted sense of humor are intrigued. I am not fond of explicit sensuality, but I have to wonder. What would the Creepy Kindle Man do with the “clinical and cringe-inducing” hot scenes?

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  2. Susan Kaye Post author

    You needn’t worry about overheating CKM with these scenes. It’s odd, reading them you know that the words represent intimate situations, but the style keeps you from really connecting in any way. Or at least I didn’t.

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  3. Sally Michele Shaw

    I think I am probably one of the most generous readers there are. I have read some pretty ‘meh’ or ‘blah’ books and persevered to the end even giving a second book in a series a try.

    Sometimes an author matures or gets past the hitch in their gallop by that point- sometimes not.

    I usually don’t buy the second book after the first didn’t grab me- inter-library loan baby.

    What you said about the sex is usually how I feel about that too. You all are cracking me up with your CKM voice. I am horribly curious to hear this voice now.

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  4. Jennifer G.

    I have discovered the love of the “kindle sample”. You can (usually) have a sample of the book sent to your kindle and read that. It has the first few chapters of it. I also read on amazon.com the pages that are given in the “surprise me’ section. Some have more than others but all have some pages. My rule of thumb is this, if I am not hooked and dying to know “what happens next” I skip it. Time is TOO PRECIOUS to read something that is not good. Mediocre abounds now with self-publishing and digital format. I do not have time, mental energy or financial resources to “mess around”. I have told my children that if they don’t enjoy the book to let it go. The exception are those that the teacher says “you must” but usually they end up enjoying those too. As for the sex scenes. I have a great imagination. If the author just gives me a hint I can usually “fill it in” just fine. I did buy (on kindle and against my first instincts) a book that was forewarned to be “full of sex”. I liked the story line and decided I could ‘deal with it’. Turns out it really put a downer on the whole story. Wish I had believed myself (and the other reviewers!). Okay! Enough! Thanks for your words of wisdome and glad to know I am not alone!

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  5. Susan Kaye Post author

    Well, Laura and I had a long drive yesterday so we used Creepy Calvin to read some of the above book to us. We even got his sister, Deadpan Darla to give it a go. Neither voice helped. In fact, during the course of the day I came to realize that this book grows worse with age. When you repeat a word over and over, it usually loses all meaning. I figured that’s how it would be with this book, repeat some parts over and over and they won’t seem so overwritten and annoying. No such luck.

    The one thing that is certain, there are more choices in reading material coming our way with the expansion of the Web and electronic media. Readers are going to have to cull through a lot of junk. Finding and supporting writers you like will become more important than ever.

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  6. Jennifer G.

    I can NOT believe you were TOGETHER and you did not have more creativity than to let Mr. Creepy and his sister read to you. What was the person in the passenger’s seat for? I would have thought you could have taken turns with dramatic readings and trying out different dialects and accents. I really would have thought you two (so very creative) could have made this a case for “why the police pulled us over” since you were laughing so hard! Maybe you can try another road trip sometime with another book…..

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      Jennifer, I AM shamefaced! You’re right, LL and I SHOULD have done more to wring every drop of enjoyment out of this lousy book! Your point about n entertaining, “why the police pulled us over” story is well-taken With the terrible prose in this book, we should have been pulled over for weaving all over the road, AND THEN, been Breath-O-Lized for good measure.

      I have the feeling that if the three of us ever meet, trouble will follow.

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  7. Gayle Mills

    I think I read the book that prompted this blog post. LOL I am almost sure that I could place the author within a line-up of five. Yes, a line-up, because writing a story like the one that you describe is a crime.

    I no longer trust recommendations from people I don’t know well. I read the sample on-line. If I’m not into the story within the ten or so pages that introduce the story, then I’m onto the next read.

    I don’t discount a story because of sex. Sometimes sexual situations are necessary to the development of plot or characterizations. I can think of a few stories where the sexual relationship was necessary to the story. Of course, I can also list some that are not much more than regency porn. I avoid those stories.

    I don’t feel that I owe an author a second chance. And I certainly don’t owe them more of my hard-earned money.

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      It’s not that I have anything against a well-crafted sex scene. As you said, IF it develops the characters, I can see it’s inclusion. But the idea of character development with this novel had ended with it being established that Lizzy and Darcy are married. So, with all the jots and tittles taken care of, the rest of the book was half-hearted attempts at crafting witty repartee as foreplay.

      And the repartee was lacking as well.

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  8. Gayle Mills

    Witty repartee as foreplay? I can’t imagine repartee that would be good enough to serve in that capacity.

    I guess I need to expand my literary horizons.

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