Today I’m being roasted by the good people over at BookRoast (medium rare, I’m told), so please stop on by! Find out my strategy for escaping awkward lunches, the super-secret “First Word” contest, and how you can win a Thai statue (or at least $25 in cold hard gift card).
So why DID I ask the question yesterday about whether you think you’re a better writer than the average reader of my blog? Some found it divisive, some found it provocative, some found it a no-brainer, and some found it an excellent opportunity to leave horrendously written SPAM (now deleted). So… why?
Well, there’s one word floating around out there that really got me started on the path to asking this question. And that word is: “trash.”
No, not your writing. Your writing is fine. But I’ve been seeing the word “trash” so much in the writing Internetosphere lately, even in the comments section of this blog. Not in reference to one’s own writing, but rather in reference to other people’s writing.
As in: “My book is so much better than the trash I find on the bookshelves.”
As in: “The publishing industry only publishes trash.”
One Oregon parent recently complained that National Book Award winner and seriously incredible book THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN was “trash” and had it removed (thankfully temporarily) from classrooms.
I. Loathe. This. Word.
A few months back, JA Konrath addressed this very topic. The Internet has made everyone a critic empowered with the ability to leave scathing Amazon reviews, and some wield their power to ill effect, leaving 1 star reviews and tossing around some extreme language. As Konrath writes, “The reality is, most movies and books don’t suck.”
And they don’t! The vast majority are quite good, actually. Setting aside the occasional celebrity book that sails through the publishing process, which, hey, if you don’t like them don’t read them, books have to get through an insanely challenging gauntlet to make it to publication. Not just one person has to believe in a book: literally hundreds have to think it’s worth publication before it winds up on your shelves.
Konrath attributes the rise of “this book is trash” reviews to “haters.”
That may be so, but I was thinking… maybe there’s psychology at play. Hence my experiment.
The vote now stands at 65%/35% who think they’re a better writer than the average reader of this blog. That’s obviously a statistical impossibility. I think.
Naturally people feel that they can write better than others. It’s just human nature. People want to feel that they’re good at something they spend so much time on, even when that might not be the case, and, as scientific studies have shown, particularly in the absence of accurate feedback (thanks to reader JohnO for the link). Ergo scathing reviews since an author thinks “I can do that” when, actually, not many people can?
Or maybe there’s subjectivity involved. You know the saying: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Maybe they’re just forgetting that what you might call “trash” might be my favorite book in the world.
Or maybe it’s a mix of both. Reading is subjective. But there’s also a part of writing that is definitely objective. When I have my contests and include publishing professionals in the judging, we always end up with roughly the exact same list of finalists. Does that mean that we’re right and there are people who just can’t recognize good writing? Or does it mean that we’re just reflecting a certain taste that happens to be what the publishing industry collectively decides is “good,” but which the reading public might not agree with?
I don’t know why people reach the point of calling books “trash,” but thought asking yesterday’s question might help shed some light.
What do you think?
What I think of myself has a writer has no relevance to what I think of other people’s work.
I started out reading much before I started writing, and yes, I did find some books that I thought were “trash” even then.
But these were very few in comparison to the ones I found really good. When I go to a bookstore today, there are still more good books on the shelves than I have hours in the day to read.
Some of us like the beauty of language, some like intricate stories, and some want a combination of the two. It is hard work to please everyone.
That said, there are some books that please no one and still make it to the shelves.
Thankfully, the beauty of the publishing process is that these are kept to a minimum.
BookEnds, LLC says
Thank you for posting this Nathan. I’ve been noticing with the new year a lot of this myself and frankly, it’s upsetting. I agree with you 100%. I loathe the word trash.
Eva Ulian says
I have just posted six questions on my blog for writers, readers, agents, publishers and editors in an attempt to restore the Novel to its former splendor.
All the literary flair in the world is of no use if a writer has nothing to say. I have stumbled upon so many simple blogs that have inspired me with their warmth/ humour/ honesty yet some of the most brilliant writing has had my head slumped upon the keyboard with its monotony.
There’s just nothing more dull or misguided than the literary snob x
Devon Ellington says
I think there’s more than one reason writing is labeled as “trash.”
Some of it is subjective. One of the great things about being in an industry with such a wide range of material published is that there’s something out there to appeal to almost every taste. Not everyone is going to love everything. It’s part of the gig.
If people don’t like it, they don’t have to buy it. Nor do they have to read it (unless they’re being paid to review it), and, hopefully, if that’s the case and they don’t like what they read, they can communicate it in an effective and constructive way instead of using the lazy way out by calling it “trash.”
Sometimes it’s out of jealousy. “Why is X published and I’m not? I’m so much better.” If you think you’re so much better, then buckle down, perfect your art AND your craft, start selling, and prove it.
I am good enough to earn my living in this writing life. I always strive, with each piece, to learn something, to stretch, to get better. There will always be writers who are better than I am, who are labeled as “better”, and there will always be writers who are worse (as in not bothering to learn the craft and remaining unpublished) or labeled “worse” by others who prefer my work to theirs.
Rather than waste my time and energy in comparison studies, I’d rather spend it honing my craft, making it the best it can be, and continuing to get it out there.
Devon Ellington says
As a P.S.:
I LIKE to read work by writers I feel are “better” than I am. I learn a lot and it makes me work harder.
I think you’re right overall. Hence, mostly, why I answered how I did yesterday.
Here’s a question that I’m curious about completely unrelated to this topic. I know one of the cardinal rules of un-pubbeds is to never sub if the book’s not done. But I’ve read more and more authors who say they made their first sales on a partial, etc. When is it ever okay to sub without the novel finished? I know generally you want the novel done because an un-pub is untested whether they can finish the book AND have it be coherent, but then there are also no hard rules in most parts of this biz (except never start a query with a rhetorical question, of course). What’s your take on it, Nathan?
Maybe it’s a low self-esteem or empowerment issue.
For some people, it’s a matter of thinking they are better, and yet, finding themselves continually rejected. For others, they merely feel powerful being able to “trash” something that has “made it” if you will.
And, of course, I’m sure there is much else in between.
Interesting topic though…
Oh, I get it! Or think I do.
I couldn’t understand why this whole discussion felt so loaded, and even hostile.
I think you’re trying to defend the choices you made in the last contest.
I think your argument here, Nathan, is that authors over-estimate their own work, and so they can’t accurately judge other people’s writings either. Ergo, your choices were correct.
You know, surely there was a better way to try to make that point? (Which I don’t agree with, but that’s another issue.) Authors have it hard enough without being scolded for being arrogant.
Authors doubt themselves all the time. Even Stephen King wrote that he writes his first draft as fast as possible to outrun the doubt.
Let’s not add to that.
Adaora A. says
A lot of being an author is luck. I don’t think it serves people well to hold to jealousy and bitterness by using words like “trash” just becaus lady luck hasn’t stopped by yet. It’s all a matter of chance really (whether you’re sucessful or not, whether the stars align and you get that dream job or not), so why make it worse be being so negative. Be open to other sorts of work and recognize that someone will take a shinning to your work, and others will think it just doesn’t agree with them.
Well, now I feel like I’m scolding ‘you.’ Well, I’m sorry, but I wasn’t sure how else to make my point.
You have alot of power running this blog – as a charismatic, funny, intelligent agent, who, not incidentally, writes quite well. You reach alot of people.
So, I’ve decided you’re worthy of being held to a high standard.
So, there you are.
Nathan Bransford says
I didn’t really have the contest in mind, and I’m perfectly content (and confident) with my choices. I am just throwing out the possibility that there could be a nexus between authors thinking their own writing is superior to others (possibly inaccurately in some cases) and a small fraction of these writers then putting others down out of a sense of superiority.
Not really worried about the contest.
A thought I had last night (which hopefully will defend some of us and make you feel a little better, Nathan):
Even if we think we write better than average, that doesn’t necessarily mean we think “average” is trash!
Kim Lionetti says
“I. Loathe. This. Word.”
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Roy Hayward says
I have always referred to them as pulp, not trash, but that may just be me splitting hairs again. However, I have encountered nicely bound and highly promoted pulp on book store and library shelves all of my life. I am getting much better at identifying them before I buy/check out these books.
And I don’t think the subjective or ‘eye of the beholder/reader’ argument solves the problem. There are some great works. That I esteem as great, but won’t read. They are just not my thing.
But there are these other works, the not so great. I read many of them. Most of the times, if I read them, they pass above the pulp bar. I was given a book a a fairly successful author by the name of Clive Cussler. I read it. It wasn’t pulp. It was even my kind of thing. But I won’t be reading another. I found the characters flat and under developed. The plot was uncompelling, and the dialogue predictable. I won’t be calling him or his books trash, but I can’t recommend them.
But recently I was given a book to review for a fellow. I read the first chapter and have been avoiding the book and the author ever since. I don’t even want to give his name. Not only did the book not appeal to me, but there is a great lacking in the writing. I know why this author hasn’t found an agent or publisher, and I know why he gave it to us to review. I just don’t want to have to read it.
That is when I start toying with the pulp classification. Sadly I sometimes encounter published works that make me feel this way. I wonder how they made it passed the second cut. (I mean a fluke can happen on the first cut, but two levels? really?)
Your comment about hundreds of people liking a book before it gets published is a bit daunting. Sure I think I write better than the average person, and that includes better than the average unpublished author, but most of the time, I read books and say, “I am just as good as this guy.” I sometimes find books where I say, “I wish I could write like this guy.” I feel good about the book at both times. But when I read a book and say, “I can write better.” This is when the frustration begins that makes some say, “Trash!” even when it is not really truly trash.
Wanda B. Ontheshelves says
Jerry Springer versus Agatha Christie : Who’s More Trashy?
I am aware that the Jerry Springer Show is at the top of many people’s trashy TV list. I am aware of this after 8, 9, 10 hours of doing medical transcription, getting done around 2 a.m, and flipping through the remote to land on the Jerry Springer Show.
How shall I put it. Is the Jerry Springer Show like something out of Goya? Is it exploitative reality TV? Is it holding poor, relatively uneducated people up for ridicule by everybody else? Or is it an uncomfortable wakeup call for people with certain ideas (ideals) about “what it is to be an American” etc. I mean, fat women in their underwear punching each other on TV are Americans too. High school grads? GEDer’s? Springer doesn’t usually get into that…
And then, if you watch Agatha Christie murder mysteries, which is this cute old Englishwoman in a straw hat, who always shows up just as the murder rate explodes in a picturesque English village…a “classy” “tasteful” show…are you buying into a certain version of English history which locates the Beatles in Liverpool, England…but not the English slave trade…or the idea that there are no fat women in the UK willing to go on the telly and fight in their underwear over some man?
Taste and class. I like Agatha Christie – sometimes – and sometimes I like Jerry Springer – a compassionate liberal in real life. I’m not so sure what Agatha Christie’s politics were…I would like to read a Christie bio to find out more.
Wanda B. Ontheshelves says
A True Story
Once a computer programmer was explaining to me why he loved old Star Trek reruns –
“Because the acting is so good.”
I saw yesterday’s poll and decided not to participate — it sounded like a trick question. Then I saw the numbers and knew it was one.
This post reminds me of Sturgeon’s Law (the short version is “90% of everything is crap”) and his related comments about genre prejudice.
I’ve always considered the numbers on reader’s perception to be more like 10% crap/junk, 10% brilliant excellence and the remaining 80% spread out on a bell curve.
Reading, from my experience, is a very subjective process. Calling something “trash” in a blog/online/etc is like a five-year-old insulting someone by calling them “stupid.” It’s easy to use, easy to understand and covers a lot of ground.
To add to Devon Ellington’s PS.:
I love that moment where you finish a book, and you find yourself holding it in front of you, looking at it with reverence while thinking, “Wow! How did they do that?!” Sometimes its the structure, sometimes it’s the idea, sometimes it’s three pages of awesome dialogue. But I really love that experience.
Thank you, Morgan, for mentioning the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I was going to, and you saved me the trouble.
@Morgan colleges have started reporting that the applicants they’re seeing today far surpass previous generations in terms of their accomplishments College administrations often report one thing while faculty see something altogether different. Many of my “highly advanced” students can’t locate a grammatically correct sentence with a compass and a flashlight, and this has been true at all but one of the universities at which I’ve taught.
“Trash” is a word I’d like to see deleted from our lexicon with regard to published literature, beloved by all or few. My respect for writers, published and non, is too great to use this word.
I don’t like the word trash, but is it wrong for people to say they think a book was horrible? After all, word of mouth is one way many books become popular in the first place. If people weren’t giving an honest opinion, praising a book wouldn’t mean anything either. I don’t like to see cruel or horrible reviews for books, but a book is a product that is being sold. If a people think a particular product sucks, they tend to say so. Why should it be any different with books?
The motivation for getting me started on a journey to write a novel was my disappointment in the quality of books I was reading. So as a way of challenging myself I said, “Self, if you think so many books are bad, YOU try writing one that’s better.” I’m not sure I have succeeded, except to realize that even writing a bad book takes a lot of work and probably talent. End result is that I have more respect for authors I dismissed before, and I am happy in continuing my search for the Holy Grail of publication.
Renee Collins says
Amen, Nathan! Great post.
I am SO over haters.
Why must people use their energy in negative ways? So, a book/movie didn’t float your boat. SO WHAT? What is the point of wasting your precious time and energy to go onto Amazon or places like it and write a scathing review? Does it really solve or change anything?
other lisa says
I do think it’s okay to say that I think Book X isn’t that great or Book Y has these problems. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making reasoned critical judgments. What I think this post is primarily addressing (I could be wrong) is the vitriol and at times lack of reasoned critical judgment when people “trash” a book. I think that as a culture we’ve gotten meaner than we were, that somewhere along the road to here it became okay not just to win but to grind your opponent into the dirt. I place the moment mean became “in” right about where greed became good.
Wanda B. Ontheshelves says
Re: “What is the point of wasting your precious time and energy to go onto Amazon or places like it and write a scathing review? Does it really solve or change anything?”
Well, it does solve something…people feel so powerless with so many changes going on globally that are not good – scary – threatening – and you can’t do anything about those things.
But – you can trash a book on Amazon! I had a boss once who threw pens and pencils across his office when he was mad – once one of them came sailing out the door (his secretary had decorated his office for his birthday, after he had told her he didn’t want ANYTHING done for his birthday). Right, so it’s not constructive and is a waste of energy – but people are like that. He was also getting ready for laying off about half the department, so he was a bit stressed out anyway. I was “just the temp,” observing the prequel (this was the real estate appraisal department of a bank) of the economic meltdown in Michigan.
To each their (unhealthy) own: Pens across the office, or brutal reviews on Amazon etc.
Having recently taken part in a challenge that involved reading and comparing the 2008 Man booker prize winner (Adiga’s White Tiger) with the one that got pipped at the post (Barry’s The Secret Scripture), it is very clear that books are like tigers and giraffes – one person’s trash is another person’s prize winner.
So, in answer to your original question, (to paraphrase) “Do you write trash, or does the other guy write trash?”
A. “No, I write giraffes. I have no idea what the other guy writes.”
I found the question hard to answer as I don’t read very many of the comments people leave. I didn’t feel like devoting an afternoon to reading all 176 comments to determine if I think I am a better writer than they are. So I didn’t post a comment. I spent my time writing instead.
Two Flights Down says
Everywhere you go, you’re going to see the books that really make the money out on display. Aside from the classics, many of these books are considered “main stream,” or whatever you like to call it. I’ve met many people who want to be writers that consider writing such novels as, “selling your soul.” Really? It’s still writing, and somebody, I mean, many find these books meaningful to their lives in some way.
So perhaps the word “trash” is being used by writers who are frustrated by such successful, though, comparatively “shallow” books in their eyes, being on display…everywhere. But, of course, this is what a commercial bookstore is going to have on display, and the commercial bookstore is where many people go to see “what’s out there.”
So I guess I’m wondering, how many people here consider commercial/mainstream/popular/etc. books to be “trash”, or “selling your soul.”
Trashy Cowgirl says
Being one of those nasty “Authonomites” has opened my eyes to what is floating around out there in the slush. I’ve read enough mss now to know I may not be better, but I can hang with the best of them (and some people really ought to stick to their day jobs).
I find a lot of Dan Brown trashing (the word most used is “tripe”), as well as general trashing of the usual suspects like Stephanie Meyers. I don’t understand it, myself. I would say, they have to be doing something right. Agent, publisher, best seller.
If that’s trash (not that they are my cup of tea),I want to be trashy. Very, very trashy.
Nathan Bransford says
Yeah, I have to be honest, whatever Authonomy has or has not accomplished in evolving the slush pile, it has certainly created particularly rabid and intense devotees. Woe betide anyone who questions the credibility or quality of that site. It’s quite a subculture.
Jeffrey T. Baker says
The democratization of cultural criticism made possible by the internet can, like any other system, yield positive and negative results. I don’t think that the freedom to amass a wide variety of opinions is to blame for snarky reviews— it’s often the anonymity afforded to those who make such comments that can be blamed. Why take time to craft a thoughtful statement (even if it’s ultimately a negative statement) if anonymity will protect you from rebuttal and public scrutiny. Furthermore, as Martin Willoughby pointed out below, we are in a place culturally that rewards the cutting jab and passionate put-down. Such visceral responses often garner more attention than anything in paragraph form. We’ve been veering toward a pundit paradigm for at least a decade, and it may be a good while before we see the thoughtful anonymity of Silence Dogood trump the one-star “haters.”
Interesting to see Jessica F and Kim L comment since Bookends had a similar discussion about “bad” books last year. Which encouraged me to go back and read over some of those comments to see what differences there might be between these ones here and those ones there.
While I personally dislike the term “trash,” and while I don’t think this is a prevalent trend at all, this is what I had to say at Bookends about the concept of “bad”:
I have one word: Gigli
A lot of people supported the production of this movie – to the tune of $54 million. It grossed $7 million worldwide.
A lot of someones thought it would do well enough to sink that kind of funding into it.
Critics bashed it. The movie-going public eschewed it. But producers, studio heads and distributors all had to give it the nod many times over before it was produced and released.
Bad movies get produced, bad books get published, bad art gets hung. Why? Maybe the premise sounded good but the execution was so flawed it would cost too much to spend the time to fix, or the people responsible just hope they can break even or not lose much if they go ahead with the release as is.
In the end, it’s all a business decision and a gamble on choices editors and publishers make. And bad decisions are made in business all the time. Just don’t gamble that a bad decision will be made with your book. :o)
Trashy Cowgirl says
You’re right there. It’s a subculture and some of them are fairly rabid. But, I think you’d be surprised to see what those same people say about it in the forums to other members. It is an extremely self-critical community (actualy the crit is for HC)and it’s about to get worse. Wait until you see what’s happening next.
I have been quite surprised by what lives in the slush. I swear some people must have written their ms in crayon after the consumption of a bottle of Jack and some dodgey narcotics. But, others have amazing stuff that only needs a few quick fixes to make it in the real world. On Authonomy they are able to get that sort of feedback and better their chances of success.
Others, like me, are making it up as we go along. Again, the feedback is invaluable. I’d hate to arrive at the end with a major plot flaw or 130 echoes I have to remove. I love knowing what my readers are thinking and which characters should have more development, because they are striking a chord. I know that’s what crit groups are for, but I’m on a farm in North Eastern, BC and the elk aren’t quite as nit picky as I’d prefer.
Anyway trash or not, who am I to call someone else’s work “trash”, escpecially if it’e selling. I’m far too worried about my own trash to care. I quite look forward to the day a stranger cares enough about my work to make a comment. Any comment.
Trashy Cowgirl says
Two Flights Down,
I like to write what I hope can be considered Literary Fiction, but I say without embarassment, I love a good Pulp read. Did the author sell their soul? I don’t know. But, if you look at an iconic Pulp author like Max Brand, you can’t deny the man could spin a yarn. Damn fine writing to me.
I deliberately concentrate on infusing my writing with a healthy heaping of Pulp momentum and bang for buck plot development. It has worked for Tarantino’s movies, and no one would call them trash. (Ok, someone might)
I’m not as arrogant as to think I can tell you what tomorrow’s classic will be. But, trash has been known to endure long after an author has written their last word.
David Quigg says
Here’s the thing with the poll. I’m too new to the blog to make an informed answer. So I didn’t respond. But my hope is that most of your readers are better writers than I am.
Well, because I’m not just a writer. I’m a reader. And I can’t think of anything bleaker, as a reader, than hearing God’s voice boom down to me and say “You are the best writer in all creation. Next to you, all other writing is TRASH.”
Would it be flattering? Yes. Would it make for a nice blurb? Yes.
As a reader, though, it would be tantamount to a death sentence. Because I want more great books in the world. Lots of them. Many more than I could ever write.
I hope there’s a reader of this blog who will mesmerize me one day soon with a novel as deranged and magnificent as “Pale Fire.” I hope someone here will find a way to take over my daughter’s life the way Daniel Handler is in the midst of doing. Let my fiction remain forever unpublished if readers of this blog grace me, my wife, my daughter, my son with the next “Haroun and the Sea of Stories”, the next “Kavalier and Clay”, the next “Assassins’ Gate”, the next “Einstein’s Dreams.” Give me another “Fugitive Pieces” — the only book I ever finished and immediately started again — and I will remain content here in obscurity.
This attitude is relatively new for me. Slurs such as “trash” have dropped easily from my mouth for most of my writing life. I needed to know I was better than other writers. But nothing was enough. Not beating out a past Pulitzer winner for a regional journalism award. Not having friends tell me that they loved my novel. Because my novel, however much someone might like it, WAS NOT PUBLISHED.
So each book on a bookstore shelf felt like a rebuke. Each book called out “Hey, loser. I’m here and your book isn’t.” So I read the first sentence of any and every book with one thought in mind: Is this writer REALLY better than me? This sucked much of the joy out of reading. Obviously.
For me, at least, once the joy gets sucked out of reading, there is eventually no more reason to love writing. So I stopped. Stopped writing. For a couple of years.
The urge to create remained. I told elaborate stories to my very patient toddler. I retrieved my high-school camera from a box in my garage. I experimented with cooking. (Grilling grapefruit and mixing it with shredded pork = tasty. Grilling watermelon = a smell I hope you never have to experience.)
I still cook. I still tell long, crazy stories to my kids. But it was photography that quickly became a total obsession.
In the beginning, what I shot was — well, I’ll say it, Nathan — TRASH. But I didn’t care. Not a bit. With writing, I felt like I was supposed to be good. With photography, I expected to be bad. I worked to get better. Hard. Devotedly. But I didn’t berate myself for not being as good as I wanted to be. I just did the work and allowed myself to fail in all sorts of new ways each week. When the results were good, I tried to learn from that. When the results were “trash,” I tried to learn from that, too.
Photography has stayed consistently pure — an act of creation based on the desire to see the world in new ways, not on a drive to impress others. My photography is better now precisely because I didn’t approach it with my old writing mindset. I try to give myself the gift of taking “trash” pictures. I shoot in bad light without a tripod. I use a big lens when a small lens would make much more sense. I shoot without a lens, wrapping my camera in aluminum foil, which I then prick to improvise a pinhole camera.
For some time, I assumed this meant I’d found my true medium — that photography was good for me and writing was poison. Then came the 2008 election. Bursting with political ideas that I absolutely NEEDED to share with anyone and everyone, I started writing again. I blogged. On my own, at first. Then, for an established site.
Somehow, the new photography mindset thoroughly eclipsed the old writing mindset. It’s more great than I can express. I still have high standards. I still care about connecting with an audience. But I’m not jealous. Not of anyone. The books in a bookstore aren’t a rebuke. Nobody’s work needs to be “trash” for me to feel good about my own work.
It’s a spectacular feeling, a freeing place from which to write more, from which to push myself in new directions, from which to do the literary equivalent of shooting through the wrong lens.
To others, I’d say this. If it’s working well for you to spend a bunch of time dwelling on the “trash” produced by other writers, don’t change a thing. If it’s not working for you, try doing what I stumbled into doing. Find something you truly love that you can be really, really, really bad at. Being bad — in its own weird way — is the absolute best.
There is only one book that I’ve ever given one star and been scathing. That’s because it took my favorite genre/premise and just made total hash out of it! I said that it would have to improve 100% in order to be terrible.
Other than that one thrashing, I don’t finish books that I don’t like. It goes back to the library or into the used book donation pile.
If I can actually finish a writer’s tome, then it means it has earned at least three stars in my universe. Any review I leave from there is generated from my baseline criteria “could I finish it?”
Being snarky, just for the sake of being snarky, especially personal attacks on the writer, is just wrong.
Verification word ‘dockins’
Quick comment on TV. I kill TV shows. If I like it, then it is guaranteed to only last two, maybe three, seasons. Some of my recent victims include:
and the list goes on. I anticipate my next victim will be ‘Brotherhood.’ Sigh . . . If you have any shows you would like me to kill, let me know.
The common thread in shows I like (and seem to kill) is that they are dark and gritty and not afraid to have an unhappy ending, to kill off popular characters, and, in general, to leave me in a lurch at the end of a story arc.
I double-dog-dare TV makers and novelists to go out on a limb and not wrap everything in a happily-ever-after ribbon. Cuz you know, when you have that hostage drama or big car chase on page 383, and then everyone is safe, healthy, happy, reunited, and the world is safe at page 425, you know what, I wasn’t really all that worried.
I use page 383 as an example, because that is where a recently read book, a very enjoyable and credible medical thriller, fell apart into a silly hostage drama where the tall, slim, blonde, blue-gray eyed, buff, brilliant, recently separated, hero swept in and saved the tall, slim, athletic, gorgeous, brilliant, stacked, blonde, green-eyed, recently divorced, heroine from the villain. Ho-hum . . . I’d much rather the virus got loose and killed a few million.
Trash? Not at all. I gave it 4 stars. It was a great book until page 383 . . . .
Trashy Cowgirl says
I am so relieved. I thought I killed Deadwood and Rome. I am still suffering from a terrible case of Deadwood withdrawl and have frosaken TV ever since its cancellation (except for that brief stint DW had on the History Channel).
And you know what? I can’t even remember the name of “that” guy who saved “that’ girl from “that” crisis. I could quote you the final paragraph of “All Quiet on the Western Front” however, even though I haven’t read it in about 12 years. And, I still find myself wondering why Duddy Kravitz had to be such a schmuck, and marvelling over the ingenious ending of “I am Legend”.
I also wanted to say that I really respect your evaluation methods for a book. Too many people go hunting for the negativity. I do not go into a book looking for POV relapses and passive sentences. Does it carry me away, I don’t care where, but does it take me there with a believable plot and characters? Does it come out and ask me to suspend my disbelief, or am I caught in the other world before I know it? That’s how I look at a book.
Ok, enough of my gibberish. The kids are napping and I have a date with Tom Black Bull.
Wait a minute: it’s all in the goal. If you want to
a. “sell” art or culture, for any reason, to make a buck, then there are multiple ways to do so. Savory or not.
b. In the US there is a false belief that because everyone has an opinion, then some how they are all valid. Issues of quality and the discussion of craft seem to have fallen to the wayside, much to our collective ruin- see how it has effected education for example.
c. There is no shame in laughter. Some fashion is utterly silly, some art, a lot of culture. Knowing you can laugh at it and doing so can be just that.