Lately, as I whinged merrily about my utter boredom and lack of things to read (something which is always, always a lie - I have stacks of unread books, I just don't fancy reading them) an unusually kind kinsman lent me a number of very chubby little books from the genre space opera. This is going bad places, you can just feel it. At the time I thought, well, that said kinsman was being strangely nice and oddly friendly and when a major skeleton (an unusually large arsed one at that) fell from his closet I suffered shock, horror, and altogether too much by way of understanding. That was all weeks ago and I still have the books. There were quite a lot and it is acceptable. He, after all, still has one of mine from about four years ago and my family (and friends!) are notorious for 'borrowing' my books and never giving them back. I'm looking at you mum. Aside from all the attendant family drama and the Dullest Secret Of All Time (because I am so scary, non?) which are boring digressions I did mean to say something about the books.
I read. A lot. I read very quickly and frequently skim - both intentionally and unintentionally - which means that I can a) read things over and over and still find new things (though personally I think my copy of P & P is bewitched and actually changes between readings), and b) get to the end of quite long and boring things. I make absolutely no apology for skimming the Frodo and Samwise bits of LoTR. I'd have red penned through most of those. Yawn. I also have a fairly low tolerance for really bad writing (unless it happens to belong to something I really enjoy in which case IT'S CHARMING - much like my writing) and my biggest hate of hates is too much detail. Oh gods. Yes, yes, they sleep and eat and piss and shit and fuck and scratch themselves and do any number of boring boring little things that we, those who are alive and reading, all do and don't need in detail (exceptions for some sex, that can be quite a lot of fun in detail though generally awkward..). I do recall the ever wonderful D. Adams saying something along those lines about a certain A. Dent but am far too lazy to locate the passage. The point is that it's unnecessary and just makes for really long and not very interesting books. It's padding. It's often padding for people who have no imagination. A former friend once lent me some dreary book that she'd absolutely adored that went into so much detail it was like reading a 500 page short story. It took ten pages to get the protagonist from bath to breakfast table - without anything actually happening in between- out of sheer bloody overwhelming detail. After one particularly traumatic description of a dress I gave up in disgust and never went back. She couldn't understand why. Mind you, I'd lent her His Dark Materials and she found it too lacking in details to be enjoyable and besides it was for children. Oh my. Some people, once lost, are best gone forever (preferably in an unmarked grave…yes, yes...).
So, the Space Opera. I have now been reading the same book for over two weeks. It’s a fat little book, I’ll grant you, but that’s not the reason that I’ve only made it to page 636 of 1144. Nor is it the fact that I’ve spend the last week in my own weird little fever land of fun. It is because there are just too many characters, too many threads, there is too much detail, nothing much happens for dozens and dozens of pages and this is just the first part of a saga. A SAGA. Oh hell, it seems that he’s lent me the next part of the saga as well. It’s even larger. I’m now not so much concerned with ‘how will it end’ but with ‘will it end at all’. Oh wait, it’s only two books in this saga. Relief.
How I have meandered and said not much at all! However, I think I’m finally learning an important life lesson. It’s quite a simple thing really. Do not, absolutely do not, accept book recommendations from people whose judgement you do not trust.