Dear Books: What Has Happened?
I think I'm growing tired of reading. I can't find books which excite me anymore.
I just finished Turning Angel by Greg Iles...and by 'finish' I mean that I got about 150 pages in, had a good idea of where it was going and skipped to the end to make sure I was right. I was.
I'm starting to wonder if fiction writing hasn't undergone a shift in the last 10 years, a shift which is only now able to be perceived. So many of the high-earning books in publishing over the last decade have been serialised thrillers or chick lit. I'm a big fan of well-done entries in both categories, with huge props to Susan Isaacs who combines both genres into some of the best reading around. It does seem, however, that in the quest to keep the doors open the bigger publishing houses are relying on a combination of copycat writers and serialists whose works are beginning to show signs of having run their course. Exhibits A and B would be Patricia Cornwell and Jonathan Kellerman. Two writers who initially captivated and are now turning in weakened versions of their earlier works.
I've bloviated before about the odd policy of fiction reviewers. In speaking to our authors' group in May of 2005, one of the book reviewers for The Scene told us that there was a bit of a gentlemen's agreement with regard to reviewing fiction. Since the business is so hard-pressed for sales, the understanding is that no book should be criticised by a reviewer. While I can understand the idea behind this, I still think it has presented a world of emperor's new fiction. We have stacks of substandard books receiving glowing reviews. Is the reading public fooled? Once or twice maybe, but in the long run I don't think so. In the long run there are people who just quit buying books. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and remainder most of your print run.
And that's where I'm at. I keep being bitten by books that are well-reviewed but only serve to disappoint. And I can't tell you how naked I feel without having something to read. Worse, I can't tell you how broken I feel about not wanting to read.