Thursday, July 23, 2015

Excellence or Madness

Possibly because the writing has been slow going of late and because I'm trying to blow through a stack of books before it experiences a catastrophic balance failure, I've been full of things I've read rather than things I'm writing. Which led to a conversation last night about books you remembered and the dearth of books that remained with you over time.

Last week I happened to finish two books, one that I loved and one that I felt was wildly oversold. Given the fact that I'm no longer twelve and the books I'm reading are less and less likely to be the first variation on a theme, I hope that I'll remember the former and let the latter fade into...but I fear that I will remember the latter mostly because it disappointed me and then pissed me off.

This is actually a great way to remain in my memory: occasion the kind of rant that lasts all afternoon and is basically a variation on the theme of "started out great, imploded, can't believe I read the entire thing!" The effortless remembrances of disasters (not unlike romantic or embarrasing events from your past) indicates that perhaps I should strive for a tale that fails in a spectacular shower of missed opportunities, cliches masquerading as fundamental truths, and endings that plunge down into baroque dungeons of WTFery. If I can tread the fine line between wall-flinging (as the last of the Twilight books did not, for me) and outraged force-march to the end that would be ideal.

Of course, the uneasy acknowledgement that perhaps I can't avoid the above even if I try to do so...and that I'm more likely to hit dead center of obscure puffery that evaporates from the brain instantly...well, pick a target, right? Excellence or madness.

Will the excellent book be as memorable as the one that failed? I hope so. The story of the witch who fought a forest (Naomi Novik's Uprooted) was a great fairy tale. I loved discovering its secrets and catching glimpses of half-familiar characters whole and living in a land I would visit again.

But the one that made me mad...well, it's hard to pass up a good rant.

So the question remains. Excellence or madness?

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