Thursday, March 31, 2005

Reader's regret...

It doesn't happen often, but once in a while I buy a book that I just cannot stand. I encountered one such book yesterday. It's a hardcover novel by a NYT bestselling author whom I had never read before (with good reason, apparently). I ordered it from my local indy bookstore after seeing an ad for it, just because the premise sounded interesting and reminded me of a Judith Michael novel I read and liked as a teenager...

Well, beware of book ads. I would never have bought this book if I just even flipped through it:

* Margaret's pet peeve alert -- when there are mistakes in the flap copy. I know this is not the author's fault, but it still denotes a carelessness that annoys the hell out of me. In this case, the flap identifies the main character's boyfriend as Jonathan; the first sentence of the novel makes clear his name is Jonathon.

* Margaret's second pet peeve alert -- male characters with precious names -- Jonathon instead of Jonathan... please. And yes, I am well aware this is also minor, but it's like having a paper cut, insignificant but painful.

* Margaret's third pet peeve -- too much emphasis on the state of the female protagonist's stomach (not too mention unimaginative, lackluster writing):

page 2, 3rd paragraph: "... her stomach executing a slow cartwheel at the thought."

page 2, 5th paragraph: "... Her stomach did another lazy half turn."

page 3, the protagonist describing good looking men: "This was the kind that made you go limp all over, as if you'd been punched in the stomach."

* and still more dismal writing:

page 4, the heroine thinking about herself: "Though she'd lived in New York City the better part of fifteen years, her naturally blonde hair, peaches-and-cream complexion, and body that looked equally suited to pitching hay or riding down Main Street on a parade float, screamed cornfed."

page 5, on women's hesitance to trust men: "the firewall she, like most single women in Manhattan who'd been dashed against the rocks of their romantic aspirations, had erected around herself."

page 5: "making slow, luxuriant love"

page 9: "Jessie's nerves were frayed"

page 10:"Jonathon's blue eyes looking out at her from Ruth's lined face framed with crisp iron hair"

Need I say more?

[In the interest of full disclosure, I could only make it to page 20 before I flung the book under the bed....]

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