Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thanks, I'll Pass

I've been asked to share about the books which I accepted for review but did not finish for one reason or another and that is the purpose of this post. I find these types of post mildly repetitious (because I typically do not finish reading books for the same reasons) but since I mention in my Nightstand posts what I'm planning to read, I do feel rather obligated to note when I cannot recommend a book.


In this case, I accepted two titles for review, both from Algonquin Books. Both had promise and I was excited to get to them.

Apparently the hope that I'll find a modern novel that I like lives on. I accepted The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro because it sounded like it had a White Collar-ish feel to it. My husband and I love watching that show and this sounded like a variation. The publisher describes the book as follows:

"Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - still the largest unsolved art theft in history - one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist.
Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show at his renowned gallery.
But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece - the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years - may itself be a forgery."

It should have been fun and maybe it is. Unfortunately I was hit with three "bad words" within the opening pages. I'm not going to spend time sinking my teeth into a story in which the author feels compelled to spice it up with foul words. Same song, different verse. I was grateful the words were placed in the first chapter, as it enabled me to make a quick judgement call. I really do not want to fill my head with such words.

I closed this book almost immediately, with regrets.


Secondly, I was curious to read Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others. I like singing. That's not to say that I am a great singer or even a good one. Just that I like to sing. I particularly enjoy singing with others (most notably, my children). It's great fun. This fact, and also the fact that my sister-in-law has spoken of her great love of choir, attracted me to this book. I happily sat down one afternoon to read it. The prelude started out beautifully.

"As long as I'm singing . . . it's as if I'm inhabiting another reality. I become temporarily suspended in a world where everything bad is bearable, and everything good feels possible. "Don't cry. Sing." a man with family fighting in Afghanistan tweeted recently. I do both."

Just after that sentence came several instances of foul language. Again, I was grateful that it was placed at the very beginning of the book so that I could make a quick decision not to read further. I am so very annoyed with authors and publishers hold the language (or sex scenes) until midway, when I'm already engaged in the story.

Again, I'm left asking the authors and publisher - why do you insist on including foul language in your books? Writing seems like an art form that should push and require the very best from us and foul words are so cheap and easy. Clean things up a bit and I'll gladly read and recommend your books! Leave it as-is and I feel I can only warn people who, like myself, wish to avoid such language.

My apologies to Algonquin Books for not making it through these. My thanks as well for giving me a chance with them.


Barbara H. said...

I'm beginning to wonder if there are any modern books outside the Christian realm that don't include bad language and/or sex scenes.

Jennifer said...

I second Barbara, which is the reason why I rarely grab a interesting looking book off my library's "new fiction" shelves. I'm too scared of what I might find within.

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