9.20.2005

Lord Have Mercy

I’ve always heard that in order to be a Writer, you must be a Reader. I doubt this applies to chick lit, to which I have been addicted for several years, Self magazine, or my bank statement, but unfortunately this is the reading material I seem to choose most frequently. I must admit it’s been years (plural, people) since I sat down with something like The Count of Monte Cristo, months since I’ve read an Orson Scott Card book, fortnights since I’ve read the new Clive Barker story. If I were the sort to be invited to dinner parties, and that conversation-starter card was played (you know, the “what are you reading right now” question), I would have to make a hasty exit rather than admit to a roomful of well-read, cultured individuals that I just finished up Marian Keyes’ latest. And enjoyed it. And am looking forward to her next one.

At the moment I’m reading some horrible Christian novel that’s trying to pass itself off as chick lit. The price sticker was covering up the whole "I'm a book with Prada AND GOD, yay!" blurb. Let it be known, even I have my bad book limits. This book is truly horrible- the author is clearly out of touch with modern times, trying to be hip and cool while quoting scripture and leaving little "are you there God it's me the Uptight Protagonist" blurbs on every page. The narrator is a virgin at 31 years, nearly implodes with guilt when she kisses a man ON THE FIRST DATE! and shudders to think of her best friend buying, and wearing, a thong (actually using the phrase “don’t go there”).

I do believe that what an author chooses to do with their religion in a book is their prerogative. But I’m feeling a bit baited, bamboozled, and blue balled. Why put the price sticker neatly over the Christian reference on the cover? Why was there no mention of God in the back cover summary, when there certainly is on every half-page of the book? Most importantly, why is the writing SO BAD?! Honestly, I could deal with the shout-outs to God and scripture if the writing were at all decent. The author is clearly relying on reruns of Friends and 7th Heaven for her dialogue. Every third paragraph reads smoothly and realistically, so I start picking up speed, cruising along, getting comfortable, then WHAM! Early 90s catch phrase + prudish comment regarding friends or family + note to God = me, mentally slamming on the brakes, big sigh, assess the massive talent/creativity abyss, regroup, rinse, repeat. Reading, the greatest love of my life, my downtime after a long day, a solitary retreat from a bad mood, my crack is whack mainline of peace and relaxation has inexplicably turned into my daily commute. It makes me want to go to the author’s house, hold her bible over a blazing fire and make her promise never ever to write again. Ever. Not even grocery lists if there is any chance of them crossing my heathen path.

Speaking of hell. I’ve started it and am now compelled to soldier on and finish it. I must get through it. Must read to the bitter (and probably religious and uptight) end. As the down-with-God-and-his-homies author would probably (steal a phrase from Friends and) say, it is “my Everest.” God help me.

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