Saturday, February 10, 2007

Misplaced Blame

I'm clueless lately as to what's coming out in the next few months; clueless as to what came out last month. I'm bored and, for a time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I blamed it on anything and everything: seasonal depression, dissatisfaction with my work, love life and LIFE in general. I'm now beginning to realize, as I go through the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble, that it's not my fault at all. The romance genre is no longer what it used to be and therein lies the problem. The stories released today lack imagination, originality and are nothing by copycats of older, far superior romance works. It's sad really. Few authors in recent months have released works that made my toes curl. However, the same cannot be said for MANY other authors who have released books that have forced me to jump off my couch and into my car OFF to the nearest used book store.

I don't know who to blame. Is it the authors' fault or the publishing company that approves the works? I have my favorite authors...we all do. Usually, my favorites release their books once a year, maybe even every 6-8 months, if I'm lucky. I wait...and wait patiently because I know they deliver (err...most of the time), but what do I do while I wait? What books do I read? I have other interests besides romance. I read a lot of historical biographies, non-fictions set in World War II or the French Revolution. It's not all about romance, but I like romances. They're quick reads that don't necessarily require that I sit and analyze for hours on end. They're pure a great piece of chocolate cake. So....while I wait for my favorite authors to release their new books, I pick up whatever new books are published. I'll look at the cover...good, nice, sexy cover. I'll look at the back blurb...unoriginal but probably good. Look at the name of the authors...she's always writing books...she must be decent. I buy the books...several books...and read them.... and realize that I've just eaten a lot of BAD CAKE!!!

The result of eating so much bad cake is naturally an aversion to cake in general....and so today, I'm scared...scared to try out new authors because the standards for getting your novel published seem to have lowered slightly. What else should I think? There are exceptions...there are always exceptions, of course. Some authors I've never been able to get enough of are now authors to stay away from; their motivation for writing is no longer pleasing the fan, but making a few dollars. Trifle and unamusing has now replaced brilliant and humorous. Good work! And then there are those new authors who've written novels that I consider far superior to even those by my favorites.

I actually laughed out loud last night at the backblurb of a romance novel. I don't know if I've ever done that. The story was so stupid, I wanted to take out some matches and have a little bonfire in the middle of the store. I won't mention the name of the book. It might be quite good...looked and sounded like every other book that's been published every month for the last year or so. I won't be reading it, unless it lands on my doorstep via some divine intervention (and that's really the only way because I'm not mentioning the name).

So what to do? Read an old goodie? Go through my TBR pile and read the works of authors whose new works aren't even good enough to use as box stuffing? I've tried that (see post below) and it didn't work. All it's done is upset me even more. Am I taking this too seriously? Perhaps. But you would, too, if you spent a bundle on books that worked better than a sleeping aid. I don't buy books to fall asleep; I buy them to escape the real world, which is all too harsh. I buy them to dream WHILE AWAKE, not while in a coma-like stupor created by said "novel." If I wanted to be in a stupor, I'd take drugs.

I'm now reading FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. I'll follow that up with some romance novels that have impeccable reviews. I need to ease back into them. I'm going to change the way I purchase romances. I've always been too trusting of covers. They look so nice...they've got to be good, right? WRONG! Expect more selectivity on my part from now on....I guess this means AVON won't be getting as much of my money in the future. C'est la vie!


Holly said...

I've been suffering from something similar to this myself. I'm thoroughly disgusted by what publishers are contracting lately. I'm sick unto death of the same old tired cliches, boring characters and unoriginal plots. Lord save me from 32-year-old widowed virgins (in CONTEMPS!), among other things.

But, I have read some truly great novels lately. Nothing historical, but some you might like. If you want some suggestions, shoot me an email. :)

Lori said...

I so agree with you! I can't count how many times I have reread my old faves, waiting for something really fantastic to drop in my lap.

BTW, Flags of our Fathers is an amazing book. Truly. High ick factr in a lot of places, but it was so wonderfully written. I was amazed at how well the movie did in staying true to the spirit and story of the book.