11.13.2005

It's not the end of the world...really

A Snarkling confesses:

okay... here's a real problem: I liked some of the writing (in the Nicole Richie "book"). I laughed at this line: "At Mode, people acted up, hooked up, and threw up, and the paparazzi stood outside to shoot the stars as they went in looking fabulous and staggered out totally gone." I'm sorry--but mostly for myself. Obviously I need to get out more or consume less junk food. Anyone have any suggestions about what I should be reading to regain some taste?

Dickens. Dive into Bleak House. It will take you a month to get through it but you'll have reconfigured your reading synapses.

James Salter.

PD James.

Philip Roth.

Raymond Carver.

After a bout with my slush pile, or my requested manuscript pile I always have to read something to "retune" my ear. Really good detective fiction and thrillers are my "oboe" of choice. I just finished the new PD James TO THE LIGHTHOUSE and there is a delicious thrill in seeing a master at her craft.

For every Nicole Richie who gets a book deal cause those very smart folks over at Harper know how to read the pop culture zeitgeist, there are at least ten people getting published that aren't awful and aren't getting the attention Mizz Richie is. Take heart Snarklings. It's not the end of the world. I will announce when that is upon us and advise you of the reading list for the train trip.

31 comments:

Stacy said...

The same thing happened to me, so I'm now rereading The Cat who talked to Ghosts by Lillian jackson Braun.

Just need to regain some perspective.

Nikki said...

I thought the Nicole Richie book sounded funny. I'll read it, and I'm a book snob. It's a good palate cleanser.

Good for Harper Collins...put out a book that will make money, so then they've got cash to take a chance on a "good writer". Economics, people. This book is a good thing for the real writers.

I can't wait for the Olsen novel...

archer said...

I love Bleak House. Novels are always telling you how gorgeous the stupid heroine is. Well, Esther Summerson is hotter than all of them, and that's after she's had the smallpox.

Pardon my rudeness. I'm Archer, and I am addicted to your blog.

Jillian said...

I'm a Bleak House lover, too -- and just about all things Dickens.

I recently read Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo and absolutely hated it. The only reason I finished it is because I took a fall and broke 3 ribs -- and I just so happened to have the library book sitting there on my bedside table.

Talk about all backstory and too many characters! I didn't really care what happened to any of them. Heck, I couldn't even tell one character from the other! But at least I read it. I've given myself a gold star for having read it.

LargeCrepe said...

I´m waiting for the film

Sal said...

And I love The Count of Monte Cristo -- the whole shebang, not just some abridged version. Stories within stories within stories.

I remember a discussion with my brother years ago about Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt.

"Couldn't stand the book," my brother said. "Babbitt was such a boring character."

"But that's the point," I replied. "Babbitt is supposed to be such a boring character. The entire book feeds off his brown suit and middle class status.

LargeCrepe said...

I have just read an excerpt of PD JAMES and now I... I´m in the mood for a go...

Inspector Dagliesh of the flying squad stole away from the office and hailed a taxi on the corner of Yeoman street. It had been just another day until then; paperwork on his desk had hardly withered at all: a suicide by tube-train, a stabbing in Wapping and an unfishished report from a junior officer about a dog- napping that raised more questions than he cared to deal with.
By the time the taxi dropped him off outside the entrance to Queens gate it had turned darker. A chill wind whipped around the inspector´s neck and he pulled his collar high, quickening his pace...

How´s that? Kindly gimme a quick crap-o-meter out of ten.
Next attempt will be in the style of Ms Ritchie.

LargeCrepe said...

If that didn´t hook you, then here´s a scary picture of a sandstorm.
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/stu/iraq/sandstorm.htm

brainlesionssuck said...

hehehe...I blogged about this myself. I get the whole marketing slam dunk thing, but Richie seemed to indicate, she had to be bribed with gifts and a monsterous amount of publisher ass kissing to put fingers to key-pad. Life, it may be. But it still makes me cringe.
PS--I will rest easy knowing I can scratch "discerning the end of the world" off my list. Thank you, Miss Snark

Kathie at Housewifecafe.com

Brady Westwater said...

While I am a fan of BLEAK HOUSE, it is NOT what I would recommend as a transtion novel from junk food Chick Lit novels to real literature. Why not start with the first - and the very best - in the genre - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? Then you can work your way through the Austen canon.

As for the COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO - loved in when I was twelve and it has held up in subsequent re-readings.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Oh, forget it....if you want to 'clean your palette'from Nicole Richie...read the dictionary!

Who is nikki, up at the top there?? Is that Nicole Richie scoping out Miss Snark's blog?

Dixie Girl said...

Have not read Bleak House becasue I never cared much for Dickens but guess I will have to now. Love Count of Monte Cristo. Dorthy Sayers is a good change of pace. I did not know PD James had a new book out! I have been waiting forever! I off to the store.

the chocolatier said...

I love the Count of Monte Cristo! Actually, I love Dumas in general, especially Twenty Years After.

gobo fraggle said...

There are different styles of writing which manage not to be technically incorrect if they stick to the rules of the game they're playing - the sentence quoted from the Richie book was conversational and far from profound, but, so what? There is nothing wrong with that sentence. If you can't stand that, you can't stand the dialogue in an Elmore Leonard book. I love the classics, but I also enjoy other - more or less 'literary' - voices. And no, I'm no fan of Nicole Richie.

Jillian said...

Oooooo now I'm feeling like doo-doo amidst all the Dumas fans here!

I agree with Brady, though, that Austen would be a much better starting point. She is my favorite author and she's definitely an easier read than Dickens (if "easy" is indeed the right word, which I doubt).

Have any of you Monte Cristo fans seen the most recent movie version? It is NOTHING like the book! LOL I told my husband, who has never read the book, that the movie was loosely based on a few chapters...maybe. I've never in my life enjoyed a movie more than the original book, but there you have it.

Bethany said...

Bonnie-- No way Nikki could be Nicole Richie. I didn't see any confusing run-on sentences in her comment. ^_^

I must be the only person here who avoids "classic literature" like... er... something you avoid a lot. Inlaws? Anyway, I prefer well-written popcorn fiction, the kind of things that draw you in and make you stop thinking for a little while, and you come out realizing you just lost about two hours. Life (and school) has way too much suck to want to add onto it with dramatic literature type things. (Says the girl who's reading "Moby Dick" for her American Literature class right now and hates it.)

Nicholas Colt said...

Hemingway always does it for me.

Jude

Kate S. said...

It's great to see Miss Snark mention James Salter. I think he's a brilliant writer. I just read his latest collection of short stories, titled Last Night, and was blown away by it. He certainly doesn't write about Nicole Ritchie's club world, but he does illuminate a world which appears to be similarly glittering and superficial. (Lots of dinner parties with caviar and fine wine.) But he does an extraordinary job of revealing what's going on beneath that surface. This is how it should be done. I highly recommend Last Night.

Brady Westwater said...

Dumas, BTW, was an early post-modernist in that he was the first writer to 'mass produce' his works. He had a studio of 73 assistants working with him over the years and turned out over 250 books and over a dozen plays. Often he would do the characters and the plot and then hand it over the book to his scribes. He would then do a final polish as well as the open and the close and ends of chapters, etc. I think I read about 30 of them during my early teens Dumas phase.

Miss Snark said...

Pammy says via email:

Where to start? For memoir, try Atul Gawande and Danielle Ofri. Humor? How about David Sedaris and John Irving (they'll make you weep, turn you on your head, and then laugh). For true crime, Truman Capote is genius, as is Norman Mailer. Fiction has Carol Shields, Jennifer Haigh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rudyard Kipling, Joyce Carol Oats, the Bible. Walk into your local library and take a gander. It's beautiful in there.

Trix said...

If you liked Nicole Ritchie's writing, you'll simply adore Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea. Honest. (snort!) If you don't know the story behind this elaborate scam against PublishAmerica, just google the title.

-- Jena

Breathe said...

I'm currently in Elizabeth Berg land... And it's a wonderful place.

Emjay said...

I read Bleak House. There was a lot of that kind of stuff in my house growing up. I wouldn't read it again. I wonder if it could even find a publisher today?

At least no one has recommended those horrible Russian novels with a hundred people named Vlastof or something.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I recently read Ann Patchett's Bel Canto. Talk about gorgeous language. And, sorry emjay, I really liked The Brothers Karamazov. :)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Don't worry bethany, I'm not literary reader minded either. I like fast action adventure or Sci/Fi.

Speaking of s/f, you're right jena Altanta nights is really hysterical.

I know some of the participants. In addition to characters dying in one chapter and walking back on scene later on, one chapter was completely written by a novel plotting program!

What a hoot on PA!

Bethany said...

Oh Lord, I loved Atlanta Nights, especially that one character who would change races every chapter. That killed me. ^_^ I wish they'd called me up to write a chapter. If ever they wanted to do a sequel (like Atlanta Nights: Nights in White Satin), I'd be begging on their e-doorstep to be a part of it.

Colleen said...

James Salter is amazing. If you want to know what flying or war (or flying in the Korean War) is like, then read "The Hunters". It is a brilliant book, on the scale with all of those great Vietnam books by folks like O'Brien and Herr.

As for Nicole - I read the excerpt on the Harper site and it is just so pitiful. I know they will make money, but really, I like chick lit as much as any girl at the end of a really bad day and this....this is soooooooo bad!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Bethany....I don't know if their planning any more commando actions on PublishAmerica, but the hoax of Atlanta nights was done by the great guys and gals over at the Science Fiction Writers of America.

The have a WriterBeware site at:

www.sfwa.com/beware/

You could ask if they'd let you join in the fun.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

archer said...

I read Bleak House. There was a lot of that kind of stuff in my house growing up. I wouldn't read it again.

Some books aren't for kids, and Bleak House is one such book. You can't understand what a complete dipwad Mr. Guppy is until you've met him, and you don't meet him until you've held down a job and watched some simpering little creep try to pretend to be like the boss and make everyone sort of giggle--to take just one example. Give the book another go. (Of course it may be just you don't like Dickens. That's fine. I can't stand Hemingway, myself.)

Trix said...

I'm the perpetrator of Chapter 23 of Atlanta Nights -- we were all writing at once over one weekend, none of us having any clue what the others were doing. My friend Derryl went for hard-boiled mystery and I aimed for a Dallas/Dynasty feel, completely overblown, overwrought, overwritten, oversexed. A global search and replace of its/its, there/their/they're, your/you're, etc. and it was done. It was the most fun I've ever had writing. :)

Malchus said...

For great mental floss, anything by Furst (spy novels for history buffs).