Monday, April 9, 2012

Epic Fail!

I purchased a new audiobook this morning and ended up turning it off after thirty minutes. I would have done it faster but I was out on my morning walk and that was all I had on the iPod. I'm rather astonished, because I've been reading good reviews of this one for quite a while. Part of the problem was my usual reaction to the wanderer archetype, and this book was apparently little more than a man's thoughts as he wanders around Manhattan. That, however, could be done well. What killed this book dead, and I never thought I'd say this of a mainstream, well-reviewed novel, is the appallingly bad writing. I mean the sort of thing I'm used to hearing from first-time writers who are trying to be "writery." Just the worst sort of florid and strained diction and bits of tortured introspection ("I sat down on one of the benches and sank into a reverie" or somesuch). Writing to make the skin crawl. And oddly, the main character admits that he doesn't read much at present. I fear the same is true of the writer. How Teju Cole turned Open City into an acclaimed novel or even got it published I have no idea. Maybe people in NYC are terminally excited reading about NYC to the point of blindness. So there was $20 down the tubes.

And then...

And then I bought No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ansubel. I've barely begun this one and have no issues with the writing as of yet. Indeed, there have been some bright moments already. But the narrator... The narrator... She reads the young main character as though she were a low-IQ robot of some kind. A long, dreadful verbal tic. And tomorrow I get to listen to a couple of hours of this as I drive to town to donate blood. Perhaps the road noise will drown out some of the narrator's choices? Perhaps the Holocaust will distract? I shall be wishing for something awful one way or another.

The levels of roulette that function in the audiobook world are astonishing.

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