Friday, November 9, 2007

Sorry Oprah

I have tried, really, to read Love in the Time of Cholera. I would never have made it past the first page, though, except that I bought the book because Oprah so praised it and chose it as her book club selection. That and because I read a blog post about writers needing to pay it forward by actually buying books.

So I purchased the paperback copy with the Oprah seal at a bookseller and sat down in those wonderful few moments between getting the kids to sleep and conking out myself, and I struggled. But I made it past the initial suicide where the man who offed himself decided to take his dog with him. Not at all something I can appreciate, but still I read on.

Then several more animals die, in a rampage by another animal, which entirely turned me off, but at least the description wasn't overly graphic. I forged ahead and made it through the mind numbing pages of the couple driven nearly to the brink of divorce over whether there was soap in the bathroom or not.

I even tried to ignore the annoying reference to every character by his or her entire full name every time. Yes, it was a formal time, but I couldn't get close to these characters because of this stiff reference, and in fact they started to aggravate me with their long titles.

But what finally stopped me was the lengthy - and I mean several pages - description of the strength and duration of the main character's stream of pee. It goes from his young virile stream that won contests for peeing in bottles to where he is old and feeble and has to pee sitting down to appease his wife and not spray all over the seat and floor, but it takes several pages to go this route.

As a writer, I can appreciate that it shows the character failing with old age. And the description is quite detailed and painstaking, showing off great skill on the part of the author. And I am sure it is not an overused plot device.

But really, do I want to read pages of pee? No. I've changed I don't know how many diapers in the past couple of years, waited by the potty for countless hours, cleaned up after the stubborn dog who appears housetrained for awhile and then gets over on me, so I'm done with pee.

Not that I usually quit reading books. I stubbornly see them through no matter what, even James Michener length tomes when I'm really busy and have to read a page here and a page there.

But recently I've been a lot pickier. I quit The Memory Keeper's Daughter about 2/3 through and never regretted it. I realized that the main characters in that book were sinking slowly deeper and deeper into depression, and it showed no signs of letting up, so I closed the book and was happier for it.

But those writers are published and even praised by the likes of Oprah, and I'm not. So here's a shout out to Oprah, and an invitation to visit my blog and maybe send an email or comment : )

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