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Wildly Exaggerated: [REDACTED]: More Than a Book Review

Saturday, February 25, 2012

[REDACTED]: More Than a Book Review

As some of you may know, I recently took a week-long vacation. And it. Was. Awesome! I learned a little history, a little geography, a little about myself, and a lot about terrible horrible writing for which the author should be tried at The Hague.

You see, when I take a relaxing vacation, I like to bring along a book that's set in the city I'm visiting. It's fun to be able to see the actual settings of specific scenes and it helps bring the story to life...if the story has any life in it to begin with. This brings me to the book I read on my trip, [REDACTED]. I've decided not to actually name [REDACTED] here because, as a person who has attempted all kinds of different writing myself, I can appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that went into writing it, and I'd hate for the author to Google his or her "book" and find what I have to say about it.

I can't say it was the most awful thing I've ever read, because that honor will always, always belong to Pierre Drieu de la Rochelle's les Chiens de Paille, unless I someday decide to read something by Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly. Actually - no, scratch that, because if I ever find myself confronted with reading anything by one of those two, I really will literally kill myself. So yeah, it's always gonna be les Chiens de Paille. But this "book" is easily the second worst thing I've ever read. And I've read The Fountainhead too, so that's saying something!

The story was OK. It was a murder mystery, and I didn't know whodunit til the big reveal, which is something. Of course, that might be because I got so little actual information that I had no basis on which to hazard a guess. Or maybe it's because I did not care one iota about any of the characters, so I never bothered to wonder who did the murdering, though I did kinda wish the murderer would just randomly take everybody out with an M-16 so the last 100 pages or so could just be pictures of kittens. That would've been better.

You might be wondering why I bothered to finish the thing, and believe me, it's a question I often asked myself during that week. There were 2 reasons:
#1: I paid $2.99 for it and I couldn't get my money back.
#2: It was so badly written that it was hilarious.

I want to be very clear about the phrase "badly written", because this is important. I'm not talking about the plot, or the dialogue being unrealistic (even though a lot it TOTALLY WAS), or anything like that. I'm primarily talking about an author who couldn't be bothered to write any kind of transition whatsoever, so that everything in the book "seemed to happen suddenly". There were sentences like: "Suddenly she realized she no longer wanted to dust in the study, so she went to bed." Translation: "I AM BORED WITH THIS SCENE AND I ALREADY TOLD YOU WHAT I NEEDED YOU TO KNOW SO IT HAS SERVED ITS PURPOSE AND I'M GOING TO BED." My absolute favorite was the phrase: "Later she would wonder why she did what she did next, as there was no logic to her actions." SERIOUSLY? Translation: "I CAN'T BE BOTHERED TO THINK UP AN EXPLANATION FOR THIS EVEN THOUGH THAT IS THE VERY ESSENCE OF MY JOB AS A STORYTELLER AND BESIDES 'MURDER SHE WROTE' IS ON SO LET'S WRAP THIS UP!" When I read that sentence, I was thirty five thousand feet above Arkansas, and it was all I could do not to hit the Flight Attendant Call button and say, "Yeah, I need you to show me how to open the emergency exit door because I do not want to live in a world where I've paid $2.99 to read this sentence."

Thankfully I'd had the forethought to pay $11.99 (well spent!) on a Margaret Atwood novel before takeoff, so the second I finished [REDACTED], I could crack that one open and be reminded how English is supposed to work. And hopefully it will only take another week or two to heal all the welts on my head from banging it on cafe tables, park benches, walls, and passing seagulls in frustration as I plodded through that God-awful book. So please, people, learn from my experience: don't buy [REDACTED] ($2.99 on Kindle).

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