Good writing vs. bad, southern and otherwise.


Writers who decide to tackle southern settings had best do it right, or they'd best brace themselves for a flight across my room into my reject pile.It helps, as in Jackson's case, when she actually is southern, so long as she doesn't write in the cutesy style of, say, Fannie Flagg. Which rhymes with gag, a good descriptor in my point of view.

Because the South isn't cutesy. Nor is it peopled solely with kind-hearted, eccentric souls who'd give you the shirts off their backs while handing you a mint julep. Those people exist, but pretending that's all there is ignores a much darker segment of society: a hard-drinking, angry, abusive and prejudiced demographic ignored by authors intend on portraying only the saccharine.

I'm reading Backseat Saints now. It's a review copy the publisher sent me, and I can't remember now if I requested it or not. Old + Memory = Huh? Once I'm finished I'll let you know if the ending matches the quality of the book at the 3/4 point. But right now I can't put the durn thing down.

What else am I reading? Three book group reads:

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker (read this one before, hope the fiction group will like it as much as I did)

When the Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire, Intrigue, Murder and the New Madrid Earthquakes by Jay Feldman (for my nonfiction group, just sounded intriguing, especially as it's set in our state)

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (for the classics group)

Then, on my Sony Reader:

Garnethill by Denise Mina (great thriller so far)

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (my kind of writer when it comes to science – he's almost as untechnical as I am! almost)

Of course there's more, but see the point above about memory. A point well taken.

A particularly good crop of reads right now, well appreciated by this librarian. I keep my crops weeded diligently, unafraid to reject any book that annoys me, even if I've only read the first few pages. Because an author needs to grab the reader in the first chapter. Hell, the first paragraph. That's where his or her best writing needs to be. If the first sentence isn't compelling generally the rest of the book will decline from there. And I have no time to decline. There's too much good stuff out there.

For those of you who feel you must finish every book I can only ask, "Why? Why? Why?" Time spent in unenjoyable pursuits is time wasted, time you'll never get back. Toss the junk aside and look elsewhere, even if it means book after book winds up on your reject pile. And don't feel afraid to lambast crap books on Amazon. I feel no compunction doing that, no matter what other reviewers have said,  no matter how many stars the book has. Because most readers seem to feel it behooves them to kiss author ass. Ah, but not I. If it needs to be kicked I kick it. Don't waste my time, and FIND ANOTHER CAREER!

Authors aren't gods, people. Nor are they visited by muses from on high. They write then revise, write then revise. And revise again. Some forget that last step, to the detriment of mankind. As the late great Dorothy Parker said:

"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

I love it.

And with that I've expressed today's rant. I feel cleansed! That should hold me over 'til, oh, noon or so when something else occurs to me.


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