Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Mr Angry speaks

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish wants us to list our top ten bookish peeves.  Now, in general, I consider myself to be a fairly easy-going character although I am pretty sure that Mrs Falaise would raise an eyebrow if she were to read this.  Nevertheless, there are a certain number (OK, a pretty high number) of things that bring down the red mist over my eyes and some of these are bookish.  So here goes:

1.         People who correct typos in library books.  Why bother?  Either I will spot it myself, in which case you didn’t need to correct it for me, or I won’t spot it, in which case, it just doesn’t matter.  If you’ve got a problem with the typos, write to the publisher.  After all, they’re not going to borrow that copy of the book.  And it’s not yours!

2.         People who write comments in library books.  Again, it’s not your book!  And I’m almost certain I won’t care about your vacuous commentary.  In fact, I'm absolutely certain - I have my own stupid opinions, thank you.

3.         Misleading or irrelevant blurbs.  If you want to put a blurb on a book, at least make it a comment about that book and not about some other book the author has written.  I don’t care about the other book.  And don’t get me started on misleading blurbs.  Here’s a genuine blurb:

“The Times (London): "A chilling—sometimes terrifying—and tautly written thriller."

And now, here’s the full review line:

"Transgressions is a chilling—sometimes terrifying—and tautly written thriller, but, ultimately, it cannot fulfil its own ambitions."

And what else did the review say?

"For contrast, Dunant weaves in gobbets of the cheap Czech novel, a pretty poor pastiche of the bottom end of the market. 'When did it start,' wonders Elizabeth, 'this obsession with sexual violence?' It is hard to say, but Sarah Dunant is certainly doing her bit to feed it."

Hmmm, doesn’t sound so great now, does it?

4.         The vanishing sub-plot.  I hate it when a promising sub-plot suddenly gets dropped by the author, never to reappear.  Either deal with it properly or leave it out.

5.         Moronic celebrity autobiographies.  Firstly, you didn’t actually write it yourself.  In fact, you may well not even have read it.  Secondly, no one, I repeat, no one is so interesting that they can justify two or more auto biographies by the age of 25.  Thirdly, unless you’ve achieved something more than winning a reality TV show or getting your tits out for a magazine, I really have zero interest in you.  And finally, if you are a sportsperson, please wait until the end of your career to write your story.  It’s better that way and you might actually have gained enough maturity not to whine about being paid £100,000 per week.

6.         “Very unique”.  NO!  It’s either unique or it’s not.  You can’t qualify it.  I know this is a more general linguistic gripe as opposed to a bookish gripe but I’m in full Mr Angry mode now.  Don’t push me!

7.         Literary snobbery.  Look, I know that Dickens has greater innate quality than Dan Brown.  I’m not trying to argue some kind of theory of literary relativity where all texts are born equal but I am saying that looking down on people because they enjoy Robert Ludlum more than Dostoyevsky is a bit shabby.  Are you that insecure that you have to rubbish someone else’s choice of reading material to make yourself feel clever?  There are times when easy reading hits the spot and times when complexity is what the doctor ordered.  I’ll agree that some books have less “literary” or “intellectual” merit than others but I will never agree that readers of the latter should be condemned or laughed at.  Surely we can enjoy both?

8.         Bad Sex.  In real life, bad sex may indeed be better than no sex but in literature – not so much.  Badly written sex can kill a book stone dead in a matter of lines.  Improbable positions, toe-curling dialogue ("Ooh baby, you're so good..  Touch me there!") and descriptions like car manuals should all be outlawed.  If in doubt close the bedroom door in the reader’s face.  They’ll thank you for it later.

9.         Vampires.  Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.  Look, I get the picture.  Vampires are sexy.  Vampires get teen girl hormones rampaging.  Vampires sell.  Actually, they’re getting a bit boring now.  So much so that I’m contemplating a campaign to have bogeymen officially recognised as heartthrobs.  Are you with me?

10.       Pointless information.  It tends to make the story leaden and adds nothing.  “As Brad exhaled, he squeezed the double pull trigger of his 5.56mm semi-auto, gas operated Sig Sauer SG 550.  Renkov dropped like a stone.”  Ugh.  Yes, you know all about guns.  Who cares – just tell the story.  It gets worse when the random information spreads over paragraphs.  See Dan Brown and Tom Clancy for prime examples although there are many others.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious! I like #3 a lot. So true. And dare I say your #6 is one of the "most unique" ones I've seen thus far. hahahaha... (sorry)

1 & 2 are ones I wish I'd thought to include...

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

8. The horrible metaphors are the worst. Here's a real-life winner: "I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg"

9. I'm with you! I hope the whole thing will go away soon. I'm sure there must already be underground movements we can join.

Bibliophile said...

Very good list. I agree with everything.

# 1: However much they make me want to scream, I resist the temptation to correct typos in books, for much the same reasons you describe.

# 8: If an author is going to include bad sex in a book, it had better be funny bad sex and not disgusting bad sex.

JaneGS said...

I'm with you on Vampires, except the original Bram Stocker version. I'm with Alexandra on bad metaphors--sometimes things are just like themselves and don't need to be compared to something else.

BTW, most of the corrections I've seen that others have "helpfully" made are actually incorrect!

I tend to really dislike footnotes to stuff I already know. Footnotes are tricky--how much should an author/editor assume the reader doesn't know? But I would rather Google something I don't know, then refer to the back of the book and find a reference to something that I already know.

Bev Hankins said...

Love your list! I have a thing about other people and library books too. Mine came out in dog-earing and highlighting--why the heck would you highlight or make notes in a book that wasn't yours and you wouldn't be able to refer to later? I'm pretty anti-vampires too. Especially the ones that sparkle.

jayme said...

Haha. Great list! Number 10 is so true--if a book has too much detail, I tend to skim and miss major plot points and have to reread. Ugh.

Sharon said...

Loved your list, you made me simle! I'm right ther with you on 7, 8, and 9! Wish I'd thought of them!

LBC said...

What makes celebrity autobiographies even more anger-producing is the kind of publishing deals they are getting. Why can Snookie or Sarah Palin get a million dollars for not writing a book, but real, hardworking and talented writers can't get paid.

Here is my list: http://hawthornescarlet.blogspot.com/2011/03/top-ten-tuesday-i-hate-that.html

Anonymous said...

High Five if you're sick of those dang vampires. Me too.

Unknown said...

Literary snobbery made my list too. I hadn't thought about badly written sex scenes before, but you're right-if it reminds me of a porn script (not that I'm out there analyzing porn scripts, mind you), then I'm not interested.