I thought it might be time to devote a couple of posts to some of the things that make for a great read, whether you’re a writer or reader — or both. I’ve made such comments in previous posts, but they may sometimes get lost in a post reader’s rush to see whether I liked the book or not, or whether the post reader would like to try a given book on for size.
Now, don’t get me wrong here — I almost never post on a book I’ve read that shows a lack of skill in writing — or the promise of such skill. I love virtually every book I post on here; but it’s the responsibility of critique to point out those aspects of a book that seem to be lacking as well as those that take my breath away. Doing so is not to disparage, but to offer another mind, another set of eyes, to a book and its author in order to improve on what’s been done there.
It’s my contention that a perfect novel has never been written, and my bet is it never will. Okay, so what’s the use in writing one if this is true? Writers, in portraying life by way of story, despite the greatest of skill sets, can only write to an audience, and that audience will vary in its reaction to what’s been written. This may sound like something of a tautology, or saying the same thing twice, each in defense of the other, but the issue here is that the novel isn’t completely the province of the author. It’s a negotiation of sorts between writer and reader.
Example: Does the average genre reader love Faulkner? Certainly not. Faulkner’s plot is there, but not in a way that will engage readers simply desiring escape, entertainment. Do literary theory geeks find stimulation in Faulkner? You bet. Theirs is to decipher Faulkner’s elliptical references to story line happenstances and making sense of his odd characters, not (necessarily) in the overall panorama of a Faulkner novel.
I’m sure you get the point, but once again what’s important here is this: what makes a great read?
I’ll give you some grist for that mill in the next post.