Every once in a while a new trend in the world of publishing pops up and drives sales and conversations world wide. At times it doesn’t but remains, not forsaken, but rather embedded till it becomes part of surroundings whilst steadily weakening the foundation of the structures it finds itself built into. This is a list of sorts of those things that have popped in publishing and writing that not only piss me off but whose very existence and even worse, popularity, make me question the collective sense of humanity. I have lost faith in humanity’s ability to discern the difference between good fiction and garbage and the presence of good taste and just plain common sense. Admittedly it redeems itself but that’s another entry for another day. Below is a list of the filth that authors, publishing houses and the buying public have given to the greater world that they really shouldn’t have.
#8. Lets pretend feminism never happened and porn is the coolest thing now, as long as you’re reading it
You knew exactly what was I was talking about the moment you read that title – Fifty f@#king Shades of Grey. I’ve written on this (see here) so I wont go into it that much. But people, how has this book series broken so many records? Are you all that sexually deprived? Please answer me. The writing is clunky, the character development is non-existent, the characters are not relatable and the sex scenes are poor and if their being used as a guide then down right dangerous at times. Gosh this stuff was awful and it got progressively worse. I am actually being generous here. I judge strongly the customer who once walked into the bookstore I work at with a friend of hers and recommending it on the grounds that it saved her marriage. Newsflash lady, if it took Fifty Shades of Putrid to save your marriage then it was not worth saving.
#7 Animals, Zombies, Dead People, Demons and Angels are darn sexy!
I can never thank Stephanie Meyer and Twilight enough for making dead people, rotting corpses and animals infinitely shaggleable. Since I was a young pup I have always wanted a zombie lover or a vampire lover that would look at me with hunger in their eyes. I wanted our mating to be wild and animalistic. I always did have a love for fur. Move over Mills & Boon, we no longer need weak damsels always in enthral of a more powerful man to get the juices flowing. We now have rich 117 year old vampires to watch over us and save us from shirtless uncivilised werewolves. THANK YOU Stephanie Meyer. May God bless you and may you too find your Edward or Jacob – Team Whichever, and may yours yearnings for crazy monkey sex be satisfied. By either of them. Or maybe both. You’d like that.
#6 What’s the Point of a Pseudonym if You Tell Us Who You Are? And What’s With the Combined Authors Business
James Patterson has made a little cottage industry for himself of crime authors attached to his name which is now basically a brand. Can’t any of these authors just write their own work rather than tack onto Patterson? Besides, he gets the bulk of the money and takes all the credit. Does anybody know who Mike Ledwidge is? Nope, no one. He has written 5 books with Patterson. But nobody cares (it’s all junk anyway). And then there is the combined authors business, it is just irritating. Pittacus Lore and Lily Herne, just write your original names for christ sakes. And pseudonyms, what are they for if you tell us who you are?
#5 The same theme over and over again
Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks haven’t written an original concept in like forever. Picoult is the queen of awkward social scenarios with the ever-present tag line ‘What would you do?’ on her covers. ‘If you son was guilty of murder and you knew, what would you do?’, ‘the world thinks your marriage is perfect. You know it’s a lie. What would you do?’, ‘You don’t believe in God but your daughter is talking to angels. What would you do?’, god, can you believe this drivel. And then there is Nicholas Spark and his romance-heartbreak material. I do have to give him credit for writing easily adaptable books. Almost every single one of his books has been made into a movie. He does get major kudos for giving us The Notebook. My point is, what ever happened to trying something new? Besides, Picoult has been on my blacklist ever since I cried in the movie adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper whilst I was on a date.
#4 Lets take a beloved series and write sequels that completely ruining the original work of the author
Someone please kill Brian Herbert. Please. The Dune universe can only take so much bastardization. Its one thing lovingly finishing or editing a series to give closure like Sanderson has done for Robert Jordan or Eion Colfer for Douglas Adams or Christopher Tolkien for his father and another to completely destroy the spirit and work of the original and leave lying a unrecognisable husk. Someone please kill Brian Herbert. Please.
#3 Forget the formula, it all about the template
This is very similar to number 5 but this isn’t about a them but rather the story. A while back Grisham decided he’d made enough decent books and he could be bothered to write stuff like that anymore. It was too tiring, it took too much time and it stopped him from going to the golf range as much as he wanted to. So he created a formula which made the whole process easier and quicker. It didn’t satisfy the critics and didn’t win prizes but it kept the fans and publishers happy. All was good with the world. Apparently not. Up stepped James Patterson and decided that too was too long a process. He went even further, he created a template and all you have to change is the names and location and there you go- ready-made books. No wonder book sales have nose-dived, there are only so many times you can read the same story. Unless of course it sexy vampires and zombies, then you can never have enough
#2 Screw You Robin Hobb, SCREW YOU!
I know it childish but I refuse to speak of you today. At length that is (that requires a separate post). Suffice to say, I loathe your work just as you loathe your characters. That can be the only explanation for the continuous rough-shod treatment of very protagonist you’ve ever had. It is one thing to have a distinct style and theme, another to attempt realism or grit and another altogether for what you do. I walk past your work in a shelf and I wish to burn it. I’m not one for censorship but you I would gleefully gag.
#1 A Song of Ice and Fire and George R. R Martin
I absolutely worship the ground that Neil Gaiman walks on but even I can’t forgive him for coming to the defence of George R.R Martin (see here). Apart from the fact the reasoning was faulty, there is an obligation to your fans Neil whether you like it or not, I fail to understand how he can come to the defence of such neglect? My first gripe is simple one but a big one- How does it take SIX years to write an opposing view-point? Considering that part of Dance with Dragon was already written at the publication of A Feast of Crows why did it take so long? Additionally, since both we set in the same time, except different geographical locations (South vs North) it is natural to assume that as he wrote one he knew what was happening with the other as they affected each other, the question stands- WHY SO LONG? Secondly, Martin can create a great world but can’t plot to save his life. Check out another of his work- Fevre Dream. Beautiful depiction, shoddy resolution. That probably explains why the long time between books but it also results in another irritating thing- the death of pretty much everyone to be replaced by another similar character who does to and then replaced by yet another similar character. That has been Martin’s answer to the concept of a coherent consistent plot throughout A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s because he doesn’t know what he is doing! Last but not least is his treatment of women. Martin must hate women. That can be the only conclusion from reading his works and just A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes he has ardent female fans and academics in support of his depiction (see here) but even that simple sugar-coating of the simple and glaring the treatment of women and young girls is just bad and often totally unnecessary (see critique here and here). Martin claims to be feminist at heart and some of his characters might seem to challenging notions of femininity but even they suffer greatly or reduced to sex objects or raped. Please really Doyle’s critique, she does the series women justice. My question here is; How do you like this drivel?
HBO owning the rights to this until publication of the final book is the best thing to happen to it. You wont have to wait for 6 years between books and if Martin croaks and pulls a Jordan then HBO will hire someone able to finish it properly much like Sanderson did and not what Brain Herbert did (See #4 above).
As a side note
I’m sure you’re surprised I didn’t add movie or Tv adaptations of popular works but there is a reason for this. First, adaptations are actually good because they make people read the original work even if they do take liberties but crucially and ultimately people become familiar with the source work. Secondly, they might actually make George R R Martin write faster for A Season of Fire and Ice or better yet since HBO now own the rights, have somebody else finish of the series and finally give it a coherent plot and direction.