January 29, 2016

You should read this ... not!

It's a worry when a journalist goes into fan-crush over some writer and gushes as if they can do no wrong. Example in this Guardian article "Why Everyone Should Read Geraldine Brooks". (I'd question that she's "under appreciated outside of Australia", she won America's Pulitzer for god's sake!)

One of the best books I've read in recent years was written by Brooks, but she also wrote one of the worst. Re the latter, I was actually quite distressed that someone I'd admired and trusted to produce excellence had let me down big-time. I'd even been eagerly looking forward to attending a special function to hear her speak but I bailed out due to my disillusionment. (I won't name either book but anyone who has read all of Brooks' work may have a fair idea which ones I'm talking about.)

Of course I'm aware that taking books too seriously or over-analyzing can be a fault of mine. I try not to be critical without good reason and always look for positives in everything I read, but I do get annoyed whenever I detect that a respected and talented author is resting on their laurels or displaying arrogance towards the reader. And when they resort to shoddy gratuitous cheap-lit passages after they have previously proved themselves capable of stylish and considered prose, then they often lose me for good.

I also freely admit that it's probably just me who feels this way, and my reactions may have a bit to do with where I was in my own life at the time of reading both books. But giving someone a blanket seal of approval is always going to bring problems as no creative artist - or artiste if you're fancy about it - of any kind can always be perfect and making statements such as "Brooks has never written a bad book" is opinionated nonsense.

More than anything, however, I really object to bossy journalists using the word "should" and telling me what to read and think.
Great image from Stephanie Piro 

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