Monday, 2 January 2012

U is for Unicorns

Am I the only person who hasn't read the Steig Larsson trilogy?  I haven't because I've heard they're extremely violent, and I don't like reading violence.  But my avoidance doesn't seem to have made much of a dent in their popularity.  I've not read much misery lit either, or science fiction, and even in genres I do read I have big gaps.  

One writer I like reading is Anne Tyler.  My least favourite book of hers is Breathing Lessons.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1989, so obviously they didn't feel the same as me.  

I once brought into class the opening scene to Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, as an example of writing a compelling suspense-filled beginning.  Most people agreed but it wasn't a 100% success - one person said they'd got fed up with all the hinting and would have stopped reading.  
Three examples where different people have different reactions to books.  All the books have been hugely successful, all have their detractors.  The book that everyone loves is as rare as...well, a unicorn.  

So feedback has to be taken with a pinch of salt, as does any prescription or formula for writing.  There isn't some perfect standard that we're all aiming for, a universal book.  There is only the best book that you can write at this time (which may be quite different from the book that you write next year, or the year after that).  







5 comments:

womagwriter said...

Happy New Year, Sarah!

I read book 1 of the Stieg Larrson books as my hubby (and everyone else) had raved about it. I hated it. It's in dire need of a good edit. There is violence in it, but that's not what upset me most. It was the number of times the hero drinks coffee, or gets out of bed. I found it a very tedious book and the one other person in the universe I've found who feels the same way I do says the other 2 are worse, so I won't be reading them.

I did like Enduring Love, and wholly agree re Anne Tyler. She is just brilliant.

Debs Carr said...

I haven't read the Stieglitz Larrson trilogy either, so you're not alone.

Sarah Duncan said...

Love the coffee drinking hero - it's the sort of thing that once you've noticed it drives you mad!

Glad to hear I'm not alone in the world re Steig Larsson.

womagwriter said...

However since Daniel Craig is in the movie I may put my dislike of the stories to one side and go see it anyway...

JO said...

Head above the parapet here - I loved the Steig Larson trilogy.

It's not a genre I usually read, and the first 100 pages were - I agree with womanwriter - almost turgid. But after than I couldn't put it down. The violence was part of the story and not gratuitous, - but I don't think I could cope with it on film, even with Daniel Craig.

And I like Anne Tyler too!