Tomb of the Unknown Writer

463359_407136685985126_323986830_oFor the last several weeks I have struggled to finish reading a book. This is a book written by someone I call a friend. A face book friend – true enough, but we have supported and encouraged each other and though I have never met this person, I consider him a friend.  I was really looking forward to reading his book. The book, so far is receiving high accolades from reviewers on at least two continents.  Imagine my disappointment, when after more than a month I was only on page 87. I could not finish reading this book…No – I refuse to continue to read this book. This book is dead!

What is it about books that cause a reader to lose interest, or stop reading? I don’t know. I suppose that is an individual’s taste and is different for everyone. For me, I can muscle through most stories. The truth is I enjoy reading, so if the story is good, and the characters are believable, I’m good. With my friends book, the story line was excellent. The way he was developing his characters – superb. So why did I stop?  There were too many of these:  anywho-be-doo,  hunky-doubly dory, loopy-doo, doggy doo- doo, lazy-daisy and more. On top of which there were numerous cliche, and the syntax of the cliche left me with mixed messages. It was British…it was American…it was cowboy…it was rural, poor Ohio. For me, it was confusing.

The combination of all of the above made this book, for me impossible to read. I was so distracted, I could not move forward. But that was me, and as I said before, it is highly individual. It is different for everyone.

You will probably never read a review I write that smashes another writers work. I believe that writers, novice to master deserve credit for making the journey, and writing a story for others to enjoy. The fact that they spend months, or years writing their story for my entertainment or education is good enough for me. Still, there are books out there that for one reason or another are difficult for some of us to read.

I wish I could have ignored the distractions in this book, and enjoyed the ride his character was clearly prepared to provide. It was a great story line. For much of the first 87 pages, the writing was flawless.

So the question I throw out to the universe this morning is this: How many cliche it too many? How many – I do not even know what to call them…”any who” types of words and phrases can a manuscript have before those words and phrases become intrusive to the story?

Have a regular week every one. It’s Monday – I figured if I said “great week”, I would be raising the bar too high, and setting us all up for failure!


  1. Andy Szpuk

    Good post Brian, and hopefully the book will appeal to a different reader, that’s the great thing about the world of literature – there is so much diversity.

  2. Oh how I hate when that happens. I rarely don’t finish a book or a movie always hoping for something, anything to make it better.
    I have noticed I’ve become much more critical and sensitive to exactly what you describe here, overly descriptive and typos and grammar mistakes .
    I agree with you it is hard to bash another writer.

  3. bhayden

    You are right Andy. That is the great thing about literature.

    Doreen, thanks for sharing. I am glad to know that it is not just me being too critical.

  4. I can empathize, Brian. The very first colleague book I offered to review proved to be just as difficult. The characters were rich and varied, usually enough to let me skim over the technical errors. However, this book just had too many of the technical errors. If I use the analogy of a plane trip, this wasn’t mere turbulence, but a full-blown hurricane. For two weeks, I tore myself apart over hurting her feelings or losing her friendship. Finally, I asked the advice of some trusted writer friends, including one Mr. Hayden. ;D I sent a private message to the author, telling her I couldn’t review and explaining why. I offered to read the book as a beta-reader instead. My offer was turned down, but thankfully I still retained a lovely friend, if not a new favourite book. 🙂 Your advice now, as then, is invaluable to anyone faced with this dilemma. Thank you.

  5. Thank you Sinead for contributing to the discussion. He/she who decides to write book reviews, does so at their own risk, and on the cusp of their wits. It is only because of people like you, Andy, Doreen, and others, that are always available to offer counsel, that we survive. thanks!

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