I spent a full week on a book last week, which for me is a rarity when reading fiction. Now if it’s a non-fiction book I’ll take forever because I’ll set the thing aside to look up every little piece of information that sounds interesting. The George Washington biography is taking so long precisely because it has led me down more rabbit trails than the Easter Bunny. But a fictional story? Those I can move through pretty quickly, once I place my mind in the author’s hands.
I am beginning to think this year, however, is going to be cursed. Because every book I’ve read since my birthday (or series of books–>I’m looking at YOU, Hunger Games Trilogy) has started out like gangbusters and sucked me in. I’ve skipped meals because I’ve been so engrossed and enthralled by Katniss and Sugar.
But then they start to just flake out. The book that sucked my week in last week, and ended up just sucking, was The Crimson Petal And The White. And yet again it started so wonderfully well that I honestly couldn’t put it down. And then about 51% of the way through (reading a Kindle is like watching one of those fundraiser thermometers colour itself in) I started to realise that all we were doing was spending time watching a male author from the 21st century imagine what was going on in the minds of female prostitutes and missionaries of Victorian London. And he spent a LOT of time on those minds. Almost too much after a point. Because it just became plodding and dull.
If you have a book about prostitutes that is dull, you have a problem.
When I read the reviews for Crimson many of them warned me away because of the explicit sex. I wish they’d warned me instead of the dullness and frustration that turned the second half of the book into a gristle pudding; both flavourless and hard to chew. Harder to swallow.
It’s funny because my biggest problem in my own fiction writing is knowing how to finish something well. I am loathe to bring things to a conclusion because I generally love my worlds and the folks I’ve created to people them. But I’m starting to gather that endings must not matter, given my experiences with these last two books.
And now I’m nervous because I’ve just started the first half of the fourth book in A Song Of Ice And Fire. I put off reading the thing for the bulk of a year, because I insisted I wouldn’t start it until the second half (marketed to the world as “book 5“) was on the horizon. I’m starting to fear that I’ve cursed that book as well, seeing as how nothing I read this year seems to hold up.