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12:58 p.m. - Monday, Jun. 11, 2007
This Reader's Manifesto
If it's fiction and it was written after 1970, I'm not reading it.*

I'm sick of the endless recitation of minutiae required by the "Show, Don't Tell" rule. I will never, ever finish a book in which a character tucks a strand of [insert color] hair behind his/her ear.

I'm sick of stock characters. I'd like to travel back in time and find out if 47% of Regency England's population consisted of rakish Dukes.

I'm sick of fantasy supposedly being about "more than fantasy, about life, and death, and great social issues," and when you force yourself to slog through one of those books, you find that all those alleged insights are trite and threadbare. (I fell for that line and read a fantasy book only once, but once was enough.)

I'm sick of the parade of 20th- and 21st-century women in 19th-century dress, in 18th-century wigs, in the midst of the Renaissance, in medieval castles. I'm sick of the insolence that passes for wit among those same women.

I'm sick of mediocrity riding piggy-back on greatness. I'm sick of the genre of literature that creates "sequels" to beloved 19th-century classics (with the characters having undergone re-education to conform to 21st-century social standards). I'm sick of small people tacking their small stories onto great events or great people in the hope that greatness is contagious.

I'm sick of the obligatory bickering that constitutes modern-day fictional courtship.

Oh, and in light of the fact that 40%-55% of the fiction market is romance written for women, I hereby declare myself no longer a woman.

I'm sick of seeing, as I read, the calculations behind the story, too poorly hidden, as when an ill-designed set has you watching the puppeteer rather than the puppet show. I'm sick of characters that spring from marketing demographics.


This may be a passing bad mood, but if so, it's passing very slowly. While it lasts, I'm reading some truly wonderful non-fiction books. More about them later.

*Unless it's one of Reginald Hill's Dalziel/Pascoe murder mysteries.


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