December 22nd, 2010


books that use the word "had" too much

So I picked up a 50-page sample of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as the first trial of Google books on my phone last night. As a UI test, the reading experience went surprisingly well—surprisingly given that there's about one sentence per page.

[I shouldn't have Googled Stieg Larsson before posting this, because I now know that (1) he's dead and (2) he was a good guy who put a lot on the line for what's important, so I'm reluctant to speak ill of his prose, which is what I came here to do. Nevertheless:]

I would rate his prose-shittiness at about 5 milliBrowns, just short of my "toss aside lightly" threshold—Brown himself, of course, being hurled with great force within a page or two, lest his prose lead to projectile vomiting and severe dehydration. At least in these first 50 pages, the characters spend most of their time speaking in the narrator's voice, either as-you-know-Bobbing or as-you-don't-know-Bobbing, and when the characters aren't talking, there's regular exposition. By 50 pages into a book, if I'm not so in love with your prose that I'm reading just to hear the sound of your voice, there really needs to be something I care about actually actively happening in front of me.

1. Is this just what normal novels are like these days? Have I spoiled myself with Banksian SF and respectable fantasy magical realism and Quentin Tarantino?

2. Can someone who likes good books and dislikes bad books reassure me that this is just setup, and the other 400 pages will be bitchin'? Because if not, I've got some Garcia Marquez to get into.