Wednesday, June 24, 2009

on reading and writing...

i just finished a book that i really wanted to like. before i even picked it up, i was absolutely convinced i would love it. i've waited a year to read it. the idea of reading said book was pushed aside, lying in wait for when i could assign it as a selection for the reading groups i lead. i read the reviews, completely trusting in the credence of the laurels it received. a BIG WORD from a Pulitzer winning author assured this humble little bibliophile that this surely was a NOT TO MISS book.

sorry, am seriously not sold on this one. if this book taught me one thing, it's that anyone can indeed (with the right connections in the book industry) write a successful book. i found the characters to be flat, sophomoric, bratty, selfish, and positively inauthentic, never venturing further than their one dimensional selves. there are those (thousands, and many probably in my book club) that will disagree with me. but this book, this writer, left me feeling a bit disgruntled. i wanted better. i believed this book (based on reviews, and the fact that this was named a NY Times notable book) would deliver. for me it didn't.

how does trite writing and sloppy editing end up on the best sellers list? weird, that's all i can say. but then...i did read it. i kept picking it up, making my dark black editing marks and adding comments throughout. and i'm of the mind that my initial negative response regarding this book can also provide a positive reaction, in that i know i can do this too. i can tell a story. i can "write about what i know about what i don't know, or what i don't know about what i know."

this author believed in himself. and he had those who believed in him. he did it; he wrote and published a novel. and for his efforts he received loud applause because he wrote a story that resonated with so many. doesn't matter that i found it flawed; i think i'm the minority. and to receive such acclaim. hats off to you mr. henkin. you've allowed me to consider the possibility that i too can tell a story. thank you for telling yours. even though i was heavy handed in my criticism, i'm still glad i read it. because i have that freedom. because i can discuss my reading experience with my book club this evening. because i know that, for some of them, this story will have struck a chord. and because in talking about the book and in sharing our opinions, we show a great respect for each other and the written word.

i love books. i love good books, not so good books - all of them. i delight in reading a captivating story, and can also recognize the value in reading a book i'm critical of. i love that writers write and that readers read. and even though i found myself somewhat disenchanted with this last novel, like i said...i'm not sorry for having read it. it just wasn't my favorite. but in my reading of the story i found a burst of energy, winds with hurricane force, which have fanned my urge to write. and for that, i'm grateful.

the story? matrimony by joshua henkin


  1. Do it! You can do it if he can, right? And yours would be GOOOOD ;)

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