I’ve just finished reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” unfortunately. Not unfortunately because I didn’t want it to end, but unfortunately because I wasted hours of my life reading drivel. It’s a contrived, over-rated, mediocre book. I could sit here all night and tell you how awful I thought it was, but I don’t want to turn this into a review.
What I want to talk about, what got me thinking about this book and others like it, is good writing. I don’t think that there is book I’ve read from a bestseller’s list (at least not lately) that is good writing, or a book that even has an interesting plot-line. Since Kindles came out, people have started to read more. There are women my mother works with who pass the same book around, like an office-based book club. They all have Kindles. And they all read the same drivel as “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” I don’t want to be part of a book club and I don’t want a Kindle. I wouldn’t know what to read on a Kindle, because it isn’t specific enough. For example, I’ve just been on my Goodreads account to add more books to my list and looked under “new releases: contemporary.” It was full of chic-lit. If I wanted chic-lit, I’d have searched for it. If I bought a Kindle, I would spend more time looking for a book I’m interested in than actually reading the book in the first place. I don’t care if it has “more than 60,000+ titles,” I’m only looking for a handful of titles.
It’s so easy to get published these days when all you write is shit. Seriously, if I wanted to take the easy route to becoming published, I’d write a story about how a boy is in love with a girl but he can’t have her because he comes from a rich background and she’s a tramp. The girl would fall madly in love with the boy, and they would attempt to run away together, be chased by their families and generally have some sort of silly teenager/angsty relationship where he would probably get her pregnant and the story comes to a climax when he has to risk his life by going out to buy her spaghetti or something.
And people lap this shit up? Well, I suppose people read stuff like that the same way people watch soaps like Coronation Street and Eastenders; easy escapism. Young adult fiction seems to run with the trend that it’s okay if your writing is mediocre as long as you have characters who fall in love and there is a potential young, good-looking hero in the story. But even as a teenager, I knew what was good writing and what wasn’t. Maybe it’s because I’m actually interested in story and how something is written, but kids and teenagers don’t honestly want to read this basic stuff, do they?
As for “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” even though it’s target isn’t YA, when I was reading it I felt no different to when I tried to get through “Twilight” (I pursued it for about 90 pages before giving up). The main female character is awful, far too old for her age, whiny, clingy, a sexual deviant and a snob. The main male character is a little better, but that’s only because he’s male, and his general man-whoreishness/casual indifference comes across better. Here’s this book that’s supposed to be about this extraordinary relationship between a guy and a girl, made complicated by the fact he is a time-traveler. Their relationship is fake and boring. Whenever they are put into a situation where there is chance for them to connect through conversation, it always turns to sex. Sex, sex, sex. Does no-one do anything else in a relationship? It’s probably written this way because the author didn’t know how to make a scene interesting by simply making her character’s discuss things with each other. I understand why it’s a bestseller, though. Without giving too much away, IT’S THE BLATANT “OHMIGOD THAT IS SO SAD AND DRAMATIC” MOMENT which I was neither surprised at nor gave a flying shit about because the author made the female character so unlikable that by the time it came to the point where I meant to feel sympathy for her, I felt nothing.
And there was 518 pages of this. Why did I read it or finish it, you ask? Because I’ve read worse. Because before I could truly slander it I wanted to make sure I had read the entire thing. Because I hate leaving something unfinished, especially when it comes to reading.
Well, going back to good writing, I wouldn’t say that every bestseller is rubbish, but I find it hard to read new books; they don’t hold my interest, because they are usually predictable, poorly written, and something similar has been written before.
As a writer myself, I am somewhere between dismay and content when it comes to thinking about becoming a published author. In a way, it’s disheartening that some authors can just whack out a few chapters of something generic and get a publishing deal instantly – because they know people who can’t read real writing will lap it up. But at the same time, it pleases me to know that if they can get published, I almost certainly have the opportunity to being published, too.
I don’t like it when people who read bestsellers and hug their Kindle’s ever so tightly to their chests say that they are “readers” and “know literature.” I’m not a classics reader, but you don’t know squat about literature when you say things like “The Hunger Games is so thought-provoking and different.” No. Go watch Battle: Royale. Then review that statement. I like to read things that make me think, that challenges the entire concept of reading itself. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading something a little lighter, I actually don’t mind The Hunger Games Trilogy, or Charlaine Harris’s writing for example, but if anyone were to ask me if they are good writer’s I’d probably say no.
But good writing is subjective, it has to otherwise bestseller’s wouldn’t sell. My goal in life is not to write a bestselling book, I’d rather write something and win a prize for it, like The Orange Prize, then get a book on the bestseller’s list. But these authors’ are the ones who earn the most, who get more book deals, who become more “famous.”
Writing completely depends upon the person who reads it. And unfortunately for those of us who actually want to write something that means something, we have to play second to those who write for the masses. We’re a culture of the popular; we’re a country obsessed with reality television, biographies and soap opera’s. It kinda get’s to me sometimes that I can’t freely enjoy reading and watching television and films, that I can’t pick something random out and enjoy it because I have to sift through the shite first. Reading is my passion, but that’s steadily fading away as I find less and less that I want to read about. But please, no more vampire, teenage-relationship novels. Your problems aren’t that bad at 16, try paying rent every month without a job. Honestly, being in a relationship for me is the easiest thing for me now. I just want to read a book that doesn’t make a relationship seem like life-or-death. Because love really isn’t that hard you know.