Archive for December 14th, 2007

Of books good and bad

December 14, 2007

Andy O’Hara has written a comment on my last posting. He gives me a pleasant picture — sitting in my comfortable home, reading a good book.Actually, I do better than that, because my husband reads to me. Apart from small snippets of reading at one session, I am not able to read books because of eye problems. That is why I am addicted to this computer. I can read the screen (an older Apple version) quite well and it keeps me in touch with the world. Each day, mostly a couple of times, we relax while my hubby does his best at reading our latest choice.We get through quite a few books. We have recently finished another of Stephen White’s psychological thrillers. They both feature the psychotherapist Alan Gregory. Now, it so happens that I have studied psychology and hold a certificate in counselling skills, so I find this sort of drama interesting. One could almost say, educational. Both the stories we have read have good plots, although they do tend to get a bit confusing at times. Likely, this is because listening is different to reading, in as much I have to keep names and places in mind without the printed word to fall back on.We both find the books are too long and the stories drawn out far too much by descriptive material; good in itself but it slows down the flow. Hence I have to keep being reminded who is who and so on.There is no virtue in dragging out a ‘thriller’ as it loses its ability to ‘thrill’!I find that some authors, having spent many hours researching for their next book, feel a need to use everything they have got! I can understand this (my college essays were always too long!) but the reader of thrillers does not need a history lesson, a tourist guide, nor a lecture on certain techniques and so on, to appreciate the story. An appendix would be more appropriate, if the writer feels the reader MUST know ALL the facts pertinent to the background of his story even though they are not necessary to the tale itself. As it so happens with White’s “Missing Persons” I had already guessed the ‘mystery’ but there was still half the book to read through. I have to admit, at times. I was dropping to sleep. (Well, I am an old biddie that gets tired easily!) Having said all that, “Blinded” and Missing Persons” are good novels and well-written. That is more than I can say for the Colin Forbes book we are presently reading — “Blood Storm”. Dear, dear, his very familiar characters have become even more stereotyped since the last books we read of his. The main character seems to have been turned into an unbelievable idiot. I think the whole bunch need to retire. Gratuitous violence does not help the plot along — and we are only a few chapters through it. I’m not sure whether the book tells me how to write (IF I want to attract a publisher) or how not to write (IF I want to keep my self-respect  as a writer!) I guess once a published author has a formulae for turning out a good thriller, it can so easily lead to repetition with a downhill momentum. But I guess his books still sell, so who am I to judge?