For the last month, I have been in the process of reading
a mediocre novel. I've read about 150 of 350 pages.
The novel has a few things going for it. A few characters whose
guts I don't hate, and a plot that at least holds together. The
author's idea of an antagonist is refreshing.
But it's not a particularly good novel, either. It took 70 pages
to decipher the conflict that is supposed to drive the plot. And
there are too many viewpoints. Several characters are so...precious I'd
hit them if I ever saw them.
"Why not just give up?" you may ask. Well, the author has written
some really good stuff in the past. And sometimes I feel like I'm not giving
this one enough of a chance. And sometimes I feel like I owe
it to the characters I do like to see their story through.
I wish this novel had actually been bad. Reading a bad novel, I can
maintain my suspension of disbelief, since one of the ideas I can suspend
disbelieving is that it's any good. If a story is bad enough, I can
sit back and enjoy its craptitude.
But no, it's only mediocre, and every sentence I read sucks a little
bit more of my soul away. When I do pick the thing up, I can't read
more than four or five pages before I have to put it down. And that's
on a good day. Sometimes, I'll carry the thing around all day without
reading it, like some talisman of mediocrity (how appropriate).
Mediocre novels may cause me to stop reading fiction altogether.
But we'll see. One evening about two weeks ago, I took a break and
read a 400-page novel, a good one.
Hmm. I see that some fool takes this writeup too seriously.
Update: 4/20/2002 Two weeks ago I gave up reading the book that inspired this writeup, Charles de Lint's Forests of The Heart. After a brief period of reading nothing, I picked up a good novel and finished it in about three days.