Wednesday, September 27, 2017

10 Reasons I Ban Books

In honor of Banned Books Week, I have a confession: I ban books. Sometimes I do it regretfully, sometimes I do it with great relish. Here are ten reasons why:
10.  Brain Ache – This occurs when a story is so convoluted, I need Stephen Hawking to get me through the first two chapters;
9.   Ridiculous Character Names – I’m sorry, but I can’t read 300 pages about the adventures of Duffy von Winklesnout;
8.   No Story – If a story arc is flatline, my interest is, too;
7.   Adverb Abuse – When the characters smile happily, glare menacingly, skip gleefully, ogle lustfully, I put the book down. Hastily. (Harry Potter being a worthy exception);
6.   Deus ex machina (“god out of the machine”) – No plot should need the equivalent of divine intervention to reach resolution, unless it’s in a book about…well, divine intervention;
5.   Weird Formatting – This includes lack of punctuation, phonetic spelling, anything that makes me overly conscious of the act of reading.;
4.  Overpopulation – I’m from a small family. I’ve never taught a freshman-level course or directed a Broadway production. Too many characters overwhelm me;
3.  Apathy – If I don’t care about the plot or characters by page 100 (max), I’m out;
2.  Envy – When a mediocre book makes it big (huge! colossal!), I know that reading it will make me yank on my hair and eat too many carbs. (This ban is often trumped by curiosity, but not always.); and

1. No Payoff - Frank Conroy said: "The author makes a tacit deal with the reader. You hand them a backpack. You ask them to place certain things in it - to remember, to keep in mind - as they make their way up the hill. If you hand them a yellow Volkswagen and they have to haul this to the top of the mountain - to the end of the story - and they find that this Volkswagen has nothing whatsoever to do with your story, you're going to have a very irritated reader on your hands." Hear, hear.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


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