Stylists vs. Storytellers

16 Sep

Books lie to you. All the time. Whether it’s the title or the cover picture or the description… all of its designed to get you to buy the book. This is accepted. But if you want a fun story about dogs and what you get is a literary experiment… oh, buddy…

This particular post is brought to you by the book The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. He died four years ago at 96, so he had a good life and a good writing career, so I don’t want to blast an author I liked… a book of his… a LOT… but what the *#&$ you were thinking?!

I won’t even give Mr. Adams crap about keep writing about animals again because… hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. What I’m upset about is that this is supposed to be a story about dogs, right? It’s actually a) a travelogue of the Lake District in England, b) practicing how to write characters with the Geordie accent, and c) a jeremiad on the beauty of nature and the evils of man.

What… the… #*$&?! I remember picking this up as a 16-year-old (after reading Watership Down for the third time) and never getting past the Preface. I happened to find this book in a pile of forgotten books and decided to give it a try. No wonder it was sitting there! Even now, I had trouble getting past the first chapter. But I finished it because I wanted to see what happened to the dogs. I should have guessed; deus ex machina. Although I was a little amused to see the “god” in this case verbally criticizing the author.

Interestingly enough, a similar disappointment happened to my wife. She doesn’t read novels (mostly), but when she picked up a non-fiction book called “Judaism Online: Confronting spirituality on the internet,” you’d expect this to be a book about… well, online Jewish websites, the nature of discourse, dealing with anti-semitism. No. It’s the transcript of an email conversation between the two authors, one a recent convert, the other a Jewish scholar.

Really? This was published in 1998 – some press actually thought THIS was a good idea? Seventeen different publishers didn’t like my masterpiece, but they thought this was a good idea?! Maybe that’s why they came up with this deceptive cover, because they realized after saying yes that, “Oh, how do we polish this turd?”

That’s why I stopped submitting manuscripts; because publishers know their audience. They know that an unknown author with an original story is going to get zero interest. I’ve even written inspirational romance, but because it was set in an overseas school, it wasn’t going to speak to their Christian housewife audience. Occasionally, my brother-in-law gets me to write short stories for anthologies, but nowadays, I figure I’ll stick with my own press and pimp out my stories.

Speaking of which, pick up my latest book, Defending Our Sacred Honor! This time, the cover doesn’t lie to you! 😀

However, here’s your chance to tell me – have you ever been burned by a book? Add your book to the parade of shame below in the comments!

5 Responses to “Stylists vs. Storytellers”

  1. Cindy Georgakas September 16, 2020 at 10:05 am #

    Love this!!!! That is hysterical.. good the guy that wrote the book about dogs died so he didn’t have to read your review.. lol. The title of the book I’m working on is great and I’m trying to get it to match the inside … novel thought. Ha! I’m not much of a fiction reader but With that said, I ordered your book for my husband who is and my kids too. It comes Thursday. I’ll report back to you on your cover and your delivery 🤣🙏. Good luck with sales. ❤️ Cindy

    • albigensia September 16, 2020 at 5:16 pm #

      Thank you so much! Hope your family enjoys the story… and let me know if they do (even if they don’t!).

  2. Jnana Hodson September 16, 2020 at 12:29 pm #

    My take-it-or-leave-it strategy for a book has often been to pick up something that looks interesting and open it at random to somewhere in the middle, where I read a single sentence or two. Surprising how often that tells me everything I need to know. Is it cliche or fresh? Say anything? Well written?
    Often, if I haul off with the said book, I find that what I opened to was the essence of the volume.
    Maybe that’s spared me the burn you describe.

    • albigensia September 16, 2020 at 5:15 pm #

      Interesting technique. I’m still a traditionalist and hope for the first twenty pages. 😉

  3. SirNolen September 16, 2020 at 9:29 pm #

    I’m currently reading an anthology titled “Cthulhurotica”. It’s… not what I thought it would be. I assumed it would be… well, erotica stories set within the Cthulhu Mythos – i.e., horror with graphic sex scenes. So far one or two stories meet that description, but most of them are either romances or artsy-literary critic-bait that’s neither scary nor particularly sexy. And a few are long, surrealistic prose-poems full of dream-like randomness that ramble on with no apparent plot before ending abruptly with no resolution – in other words, the kind of fiction that I loath with the burning passion of a million white-hot stars.

    I’ll have to make sure not to read another anthology assembled by this particular editor. Clearly, she and I have very different ideas of what qualifies as entertainment.

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