Cheryll's Writing Journal

Musings, rants and ravings, plus gems of insight nobody wants to hear now that I've finally got them. Also neat stuff I found on the 'Net when I should have been updating this blog....

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Book reviews...

You know, I'm fast becoming curmudgeonly over what comprises the best seller lists. Though, of course, I never intended to turn into the crotchety old women I grew up with, either!

But there you are: I'm finding daily dozens, if not legions, of big and little assaults on my equanimity -- and I no longer seem to have the energy to brush them off. Menopause?

Anyway, came across a comment in an old Miss Read book, Village Diary, which expresses my frustration with new books quite well:

"I am heartily sick of books...all termed 'powerful by their reviewers (and in future I shall steer clear of any with this label) which give the suffering reader a detailed account of the bodily functions of their main characters. If the author has such a paucity of ideas that he must pad out his 300 pages with reiterated comments on his hero's digestive, alimentary and productive systems I am sorry for him; but I don't see why he should be encouraged.

"To have a heroine who does nothing but climb, regularly every thirty pages, from one bed into another is, to my mind, not only inartisitc. It is worse. It is tedious."

Add in a nasty predilection for detailed gore and violence, and there you have my complaints. Sometimes, if the story is actually good enough, I can wade through the garbage to get to the ending. This is most often the case with an author like Clive Cussler, who can present engaging characters and a tricky plot, but litters the landscape with bodies.

Add inanity, stupidity, ignorance and canned laughter, and you will have television! Even those handful of programs I might like to watch require me to suffer large doses of unnecessary detail. I do not, for instance, need to see 3 excruciatingly long minutes of someone being strangled to death. Nor even 30 seconds!

And spending my evening in the mind of a serial killer, or visiting the empty and wasted lifestyles perported to be 'friends,' 'housewives,' or 'modern single females,' just doesn't do it for me. I do NOT want to believe that most entertainment television portrays reality. How horrible if people actually had to live those ways!

It really does take much more work to write a good story, so perhaps that is the problem. Since word processors came on the scene, it is possible for many more folks than have the talent and commitment to the work involved to become writers. They have to fill the pages with something.

I've been wondering recently whether the startling intensity of violent activity, noise and emotion portrayed in entertainments isn't the result of a generalized numbing response to uncomfortable reality. In order to exist in a moribund society, one has to shut it out. And then, in order to feel alive, much more in required to stimulate the senses.

Sort of like having to turn up the stereo volume in order to hear it through the earplugs....

Researchers are telling us that the average child in this country spends 6 or more hours per day watching TV, and by age 7 or 8, has seen several hundred murders, many of them in gruesome detail. They will have viewed unnumbered instances of violence, often disguised as humor, demeaning women, men, children, morality, government, family, and good sense. The only adults they see portrayed are ridiculous or villainous. TV presents a world in which they can have no chance at all, because against such odds, only superheroes can survive -- and they are just little kids. They don't have a hope.

What better reason than that to shut out the world?


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