First off, I fully acknowledge that I’m not a published author, nor have I completed any of my novel ideas yet, so I apologize if my following critique of a published work seems harsh. But wow…
This past weekend was the annual Greek Festival at one of the local churches here in Cleveland. One of the best parts about this festival (apart from the yummy pastries) is the flea market. Every year I make a beeline for the market and I pick up all sorts of do-dads, thingamabobs and knick-knack-y things (this year I picked up seven Tamagotchis. Silly, sure, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it) and, of course, books!
Where there’s a book, there’s a me.
This year I picked up a few books on mythology and legends, etc. mainly for story ideas and research. But I also happened across two fantasy novels. And if someone is trying to write in the fantasy genre, one must read from the fantasy genre, I figured this was a good opportunity to take a chance on something so blatantly put before me.
At fifty cents a book I couldn’t really go wrong…well, live and learn.
I got the books home and took a closer look. They looked brand new, never been read…and Hey! They’re signed by the authors! That’s pretty cool, but sad to say, I’ve been trying really hard to give the story the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve only been able to force my way through to chapter three, and last night – for the sake of my sanity – I just had to stop.
First, it was beyond clear that one of the authors was totally into role-playing games, which I think are cool enough, but it was a painful clarity that I couldn’t ignore.
Secondly, the failed attempts at 18th Century prose were so distracting that I handed my husband the book, where he randomly turned to a page and burst out laughing. Enough to tell me that it continues throughout…at least they’re consistent…
And finally, I kind of felt insulted by the triteness of it. At best it was a poor reflection of real emotions. It wasn’t gripping, it wasn’t clever, and I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the characters, so how on earth could I continue? I know some books have a rocky start – I’ve read a few – and I usually manage to get past it…not this time.
All I can think is that these books were left at the flea market as a plant, maybe garner some new interest. The publisher is an independent publisher and native to Ohio, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
But despite my guttural reaction to the books I have to accept the fact that they were, in fact, published…and not only that, these same authors have had like five or six of their books published! It’s just astonishing to me…
Maybe that makes me a book snob. I mean, I don’t have a published novel so what gives me the right to be so critical about someone else’s accomplishment? But wow…
In retrospect, what I don’t want to take away from this is the idea that “they’ll publish anything”. But what I will take away from this is an important lesson in what not to do.
Have you ever come across a book (to your mind) so poorly written that you were shocked it was published?