Thursday, April 5, 2012

Barking at the Moon

Since when did reading become something that was supposed to be easy and uncomplicated? Sure there's a place for so-called 'light' reading. That place is mostly in magazines, online, and even some books. But not everything is supposed to be a quick entertainment. 

While the reviews of Life is But a Dream are overwhelmingly positive, I once again see myself pitted against the insatiable appetite for an action-filled plot that is easily digestible. The handful of readers who haven't liked the book seem to keep mentioning the 'slow pace' of which I expected. I've dealt with that one my entire career. I don't write books that ooze plot and I don't apologize for that. My books are about character and perception and language. Plot is secondary, just as plot is secondary to our thoughts in real life. 

The one unexpected criticism that I've seen is that some readers have been turned off by the fact that the book forces you to actually think. They falsely confuse that aspect of the book with it somehow being confusing. I wonder how they would do with Gravity's Rainbow or Ulysses? Just because you have to pay attention, doesn't mean something is confusing. However, I guess this shouldn't have been so unexpected. But it saddens me that some people aren't willing to concentrate when they read. (And then have the nerve to publish a book blog!). 

The truth is, some of us don't aim to write fiction, we strive to create literature. There's a difference. Not everything in this world is meant to be pure spectacle and entertainment. And when you pick up a book about a severe mental illness, can you really expect the story not to challenge you? If I didn't, would I really be doing my job?

This isn't a rant on negative opinions. I've said many times before that I actually enjoy a well-written critique of my writing. This is more of a sad observation on the state of reading and those who profess to cherish the activity, yet don't want to do the heavy lifting. 


  1. Brian, I just finished Life is but a Dream and oh goodness! It was so good - awesome. Slow pace? To hard to think while reading it? Really?!!! Those people are idiots. It was a beautiful piece of art. I am one of those readers that dream about the characters I'm reading and this last week I didn't dream about Sabrina but her dreams. Every morning I'd wake up and smile, it made the imaging even more visual while I was still reading her story. I am recommending this book to a friend that is going through a rough time because her 23 yo son was just diagnos schizophrenic and I think this story will be compforting.

    Again beautiful story, so poetic.


  2. Thank you! Yes, there are some people who long for constant action and feel "nothing happens for the first 50 page." I would argue that an immense amount happens in those pages, like establishing a entirely new thought process, the dynamic in patient/ caregiver relations, and a girl's longing for acceptance. But what do I know.

    As for the confusing part, they have trouble with the flashback scenes, complaining they didn't know where they were, even though if you pay even the slightest attention, I always establish time and place within the first two paragraphs of those scenes.

    Glad you got dream a little of her dreams :) Sabrina visited me often during the writing of the book. Hope your friend will find the book interesting, if not helpful.

  3. Oh how I love this an author out on sub for the first time who writes about characters, and personal growth, and how people define themselves alongside those they love, I heard the "nothing happens" when I was in the querying process. But you know what...a lot happens it just doesn't involve guns and chases and monsters. And when I signed with an agent it was one who told me that my book made her cried in multiple places. So yeah. Stuff happens.

    I have, by the way, recommended DIRTY LIAR to about a million reader friends who love to wallow in gorgeous language. I have a rule - if I take a book out of the library and turn down more than 5-10 page corners so that I can go back and reread passages, I buy the book. I'd literally turned down over 50 page corners (with apologies to the library) in that book. Not because there are action scenes, but because there were sentences of beautiful heartbreak that I couldn't bear to leave.

    I really appreciated LIFE IS BUT A DREAM and am working my way through the rest of your catalog. I hope that you continue to challenge your readers as you are.

  4. Helene- I know exactly how you feel. Good luck. And I hope you enjoy the rest of the catalog :)