May 18, 2014

DNF and WTF and CDW

Periodically, discussions do the rounds of the Internet about why people don’t finish books. Usually the complaint is the characters or the plot didn’t grab the reader, it was too wordy, badly written, too long, too dense, too stupid, etc. etc. And there are those books that result in exclamation marks and the reaction of WTF.

But what about books that are - to borrow a terrific phrase from the tres smart Marike Hardy (as seen on the latest Book Show on ABC TV) of “Clever D**k Writing” - or CDW?

She was giving her reaction to the latest Booker prize-winner The Luminaries, a book I have had in my TBR (to be read) pile - partly because I liked the cover and I am a sucker for big historical fiction - but is unlikely to rise higher due to its weight which is keeping it permanently sunk at the bottom.

Not having read it, I am not in a position to comment on the CDW factor that Marike spotted, but it is certainly evident in many other books that I’ve come across in recent times. As soon as I suspect I’m being used as some writer’s experiment in look-at-me-what-a-clever-d**k-author-I-am, I get annoyed.

And I have just  - figuratively, as it is library property - thrown another book against the wall and mentally chucked it into my personal DNF pile of garbage. 

It is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Falling into the trap set by the gush-gush critics, I very nearly bought this on a couple of occasions, but just happened to spot it on my library shelf last week. Thank goodness I didn’t part with my cash! 

It started off quite interesting, a sort of thriller about a missing wife. But I soon sussed the wife was a manipulative New York privileged b***h who was trying to make it look as if her slightly hokey and petulant husband from Mark Twainsville had done her in. Around the half way point, a CDW factor started being introduced and I could see it heading into some weird kind of psychological examination of a marriage. That finished me off. Aaaargh!

I’ve now browsed a few reviews on Amazon and elsewhere and it makes me feel better that I’m not alone in spotting the same problems with the book that the gushers and lovers of it just don’t seem to see. 

I like this review by Megan Pollard in her blog Book Ends, and her great little graphics, which describes the book as a WTF, and also because she happily gives out the spoilers and saves me the bother of guessing it was bound to end in an ugly and nasty mess. Gone Gone for Good.

My DNF pile













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