Last weekend I read two books. One was called The Gargoyle and the other was The Dinner. Both are, I’ll be honest, the kind of literature that I don’t like.
Both were trying to do things with structure and altering the reader’s perception of the characters as the book progressed. Both had interesting conceits and I’d even say both were trying to provoke discussion.
The reason I didn’t like either of them was the other things that they both had in common.
First of all I really can’t stand unlikeable protagonists. You have to do a lot to redeem them for me to feel that it was worthwhile putting up with them.
Second, I don’t like unrelentingly bleak books. Both of these were – in very different ways – extremely bleak. In one, every love affair ended in tragedy, except one. In the other, everyone behaved with such a deep lack of morals that it was like an advertisement for everything that is bad about humans.
There was also something else these books hand in common, though this is more in the eye-of-the-reader; their prose let them down. Both could have been told in a more succinct way – without much of the provided information – and with a lot less chopping back and forth in time and still told their story.
Which probably just goes to show that I’m not one of the readers that contributes to a book becoming an ‘international sensation’ or an ‘international best seller’.
Though I gather episodic jumps in time has been a trend, seeing that a mystery/crime novel I gobbled up last week (that was also written in the past 5 years) did something of the same thing. As, it would seem, is deliberately withholding information so you can manipulate the reader into changing their opinion of characters.
Somehow, I like my narratives more honest and less full of things I don’t need to know.