The New York Times Best Sellers list (print edition), begs for trivialization, so I’ll trivialize. Of the 16 books on the list (usually 15, but there was a tie), four have to do with witches and werewolves. All of the witch books are written by women. Also of the 16 books, 3 are written by multiple authors. All of these are written by men. These two profound items are worth more analysis, but I’m not doing that.
In total, 10 books are written by women and 6 by men. It seems to me this is actually a little better than the men have been doing lately. Sadly the best writer among the men is dead. Stieg Larsson, died in 2004 shortly after finishing his trilogy about a young Swedish outcast and a journalist.
This weeks choices are not awesome. Minimally I read 60 or 70 books a year and none of these except Larsson’s book would be on my list. The Clancy book is co-authored, and I won’t read a novel written by more than one person on general principles. Popular women writer’s seem to choose subjects that don’t interest me nor do I feel empathy for their characters (Lonely woman goes to Maine to sit on the beach and think about her philandering husband, or sick mother or ungrateful child…whatever). Hmm…maybe that’s why some women are writing about witches. Of course there’s always the chance that they’re not trying to write something I would like, so there you are.
I really don’t ask too much of the fiction I read. There should be a somewhat believable story line, characters that are well drawn and, if possible, likable. The most important feature is that the writer be a good story teller. Someone who understands the story they are telling, knows where it’s going, knows what the characters job is and has figured out the ending. That’s all. Is that so hard?
Writers like John Grisham and Elmore Leonard are examples of writers entirely in control of the story, the characters and their readers. Dialog is another important ingredient. Good dialog can carry a lightweight story and make it enjoyable. Maybe not memorable, but you would probably buy the next book. Bad dialog is a story killer.
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