I am addicted to audiobooks. I have to have 3 or 4 handy at a time because I might be listening to one on my iphone, another in my car and another in my studio. I can finish one in under a day and if I'm all out of book, I start going through withdrawl and - like any addict - I desparately need a fix. So, recently it was slim pickings at the bookmobile and I decided to try a book by a popular author that I never read because I thought she wouldn't be my style. Holy mother of all things crappy. This is a best-seller. I mean, dozens of published titles = multi-million sales = millions of dollars. (I won't name names, but rhymes with fanet yuckanovich) And yet, as I listen to this drek I start to worry that my earphones are going to start spewing out puss. I tear them away, hoping to stave off infection. The writing is putrid. I mean so bad, that I expect the narrator to take a vomit break. So I don't get past the first CD. But I can't stop thinking about this. I mean, everyone knows how hard it is to get an agent and get published, especially for pop-fiction. Many of us have abandoned all dreams of having much than 148 loyal readers. So this, ahem, writer, who seems to sit with a thesaurous, a book of cliches and a map to predictability on her desktop, has struck gold with a publisher that promoted the heck out of her titles and a public with impossibly low standards. Kudos to her. Truly. I do not begrudge her the success - no matter how ironic it is that really, really bad writing got someone to best status. I don't believe that success is available in limited quantities. And I'm not mad at those agents and publishers who provide the resources to make it possible for us to take endless dips in the pool of literary crap - they are in business to make money. As an American, and a capitalist, I don't mind seeing them compromise what surely started out as a love for literature, in the shameless pursuit of dollars.
my grapes are not sour
But I am mad at you. Well, maybe not you personally, because you read my stuff, so clearly you're discerning and extremely cool. I mean the collective "you" - the general public (yeah, yeah, I guess I'm probably in there too). Stop buying the crap that bought the author (and I apply that term in the same way I refer to my 9 year old as mature) the penthouse and the botox. So if you're wishing you could have my clever, laugh-out-loud, relatably flavored novel for your summer reading pleasure, let me break the sad news that it will never happen. I can't possibly compete with the story about the brilliant attorney who looks like a supermodel and has been unlucky in love until she meets the unbelievably hunky, funny and sensitive cop/FBI guy/doctor, and they share the traumatic experience that ends in the most perfect sex ever, followed by a marriage proposal. Ick. Ick. Ick. I feel dirty just describing it. This doesn't even qualify as a guilty pleasure because it's actually painful.
May I suggest a new medium for crappy titles?
Look, people, I'm not expecting everyone to create a Jane Austen book club and reject anything other than high-brow literature. I just want to point out that there is a whole lot of writing talent in this big world, and you have the right to good story-telling. So, please, stop liking crap because you might not be able to escape the stink.