I used to despise people who couldn’t finish a book. “Just read it, stupid,” I’d say to them, “You’ve only got three hundred pages left. Look, you’ve read just five pages so how do you know you hate it?” Then I’d smack ’em with the offending book and remind them what Nancy Pearl teaches us: Take your age and subtract it from the total pages of the book, that’s how many pages you need to read.
Well Nancy Pearl, I’m sorry. (I’m writing this downstairs so I don’t need to make eye contact with my Nancy Pearl action figure.) I’m sorry because within five days I’ve–
HOLD IT. I checked Nancy Pearl’s Wikipedia page and here is her actual rule: “If you still don’t like a book after slogging through the first 50 pages, set it aside. If you’re more than 50 years old, subtract your age from 100 and only grant it that many pages.” So Nancy Pearl, I take back my apology. Let’s just scratch those paragraphs above.
I used to despise people who couldn’t finish a book. “Just read it, stupid,” I’d say to them, “You’ve only got three hundred pages left. Look, you’ve read just five pages so how do you know you hate it?” Then I’d smack ’em with the offending book and send them cowering.
Here’s the thing: in the past five days I’ve given up on two books. Why? Well, I realized something. I realized that I simply didn’t care. Home invasion? Hope you had insurance. Rape? I actually yawned (yes, I know how that makes me sound but you’ve obviously never read Impossible by Nancy Werlin.) My new life policy regarding books is once you stop caring about the characters than the author has failed to reach you and deserves to be smacked around a bit.
The two books I’ve given up on were Impossible by Nancy Werlin and Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. In case you’re curious here’s my reasoning:
Pattern Recognition: This book had promise. Like, tons of promise. It’s set in the future, it’s about how 9/11 affected us and how dangerous the fashion world is. At least I think that’s what was going on. The first two I am confident about (actually the first one I’m shaky on as they use Netscape for the internet) but only because that’s what the jacket flap told me. As for the last bit there’s fashion and there’s danger so I think they’re related. Basically Pattern Recognition is about a scavenger hunt that a flat character and her flat associates get involved in. It was riveting. (On a side note: This book is all written in the present tense and while I’ve read lots of books where I loved the use of the present tense this book made me feel frantic and confused. True the main character has these anxiety things where she’s all frantic and confused but I’d like to be able to understand what’s going on at least.)
Impossible: Oh what a perfect title. It’s perfectly fitting. The writing is a boring slodge through teenage life that even a crazy mother, curse, rape, magical tasks and romance can’t make interesting. When I said that the characters in Pattern Recognition were flat what I meant to say was- They’re flat but not as flat as Werlin’s characters. Cool hip foster parents, dangerous love and a perfect boy. It was kinda like the time I almost read Twilight. And unlike Cassandra Clare’s flat series that was somehow sinfully delicious Impossible was just dull.
On the other hand I just read Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin which was delightful and am now reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte so perhaps the next post I write won’t be so bitter.