18 ianuarie 2012

Reading novels ... or not this one?

Imagine yourself starting reading a novel. The first 10 pages go smoothly. The book is neither bad, neither very promising. Around page 25 you remember that the novel got some award for literature. The book does not catch you, but it gets some nice reviews. Other people saw it as valuable, they appreciated the action, or the message, or the writing itself, or even all together.

You continue reading, but it does not go as smooth anymore. Few days later you’re stuck around page 35. Then, after falling asleep two times at page 40, you have fewer hopes, many critical thoughts come to your mind, and you start getting annoyed by the mismatch between what you read about the book and what you find in the book. At page 50, only the mentioned award keeps your interest alive. At page 60 you have already passed through a third of the book. The last 10 pages you kept wondering what other saw in this book. Why you do not feel any pleasure reading it. The message is banal, you feel like being able of better writing, even if you do not call yourself an author, the message is actually missing, or there are many books which do it better. You feel that you were fooled; there is nothing to learn from the book, there is no amusement either.

You have two choices: to give up hope and leave the book off, or to continue reading it. On one hand, renouncing might mean that you miss the opportunity to find out something extraordinary that might happen in the last one hundred and twenty pages. However, you feel unlikely that the author will be able to offer such nice surprises. Not in this book. On the other hand, continuing might mean that the time invested in reading the first 60 pages is not lost. But you risk wasting some more time on reading banalities, without the feel that you self-develop or entertain yourself.

Is this when the decision comes? Should you postpone the moment? Should you decide even earlier? It probably depends on your incentives, on your time resources, on your willingness to assume risks, on your tolerance. For me, page 60 would be the limit. However, sometimes, a negative decision may come earlier. A stop would mean that I would think twice about spending money and time on another novel of the same author, and that I would not give further credit to the jury that awarded the book. Therefore, some basic marketing rules would require the authors to be more convincing when writing the first 60 pages if they would like to keep readers like me as their customers.

This is what many American or English writers learn in a commodified writing industry. This is something that many other contemporary authors never cared about. They are artists, and this is the pleasure that they derive from writing: being an author no matter how; receiving a prize because the board is made of their friends and colleagues. Getting good reviews because they graduated the same class as the reviewer did. This puts more pressure on you to be more selective when paying attention to reviewers and awards. This is something that you may want to be aware of, when deciding to buy contemporary Romanian writers :(

2 comentarii:

Osterhase spunea...

why in English?

Bogdan Voicu spunea...

Așa mi-a venit în clipa când l-am scris ;)

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