I used to get lost in books. In the backseat on long car trips , or on Sunday afternoons, lengthwise on the couch inside a sunny deck porch, I could exist in other worlds for hours at a time. It was magic.
Those days seem to have long passed for me. I start reading novels all the time, but rarely finish any of them. My pace is painfully slow, often ten pages per hour, and sometimes less. In part, my biochemistry may have changed. I took a battery of tests for attention deficit disorder some time ago, one of which required connecting an numbered sequence of alternating pink and yellow dots on a sheet of paper. I bombed, which suggested I had particular difficulty with visual attention.
Also, for the past four years I've been neck-deep in the writing process, which I suspect to be a factor as well. Indeed, I've noticed that my progress with non-fiction books, though similarly slow, is also more consistent. I've labored a thousand hours to craft a story that's both compelling and well-written, so yeah, I get frustrated when the literary novels I start quickly become too slow, mundane, overly intellectual, rife with long, complicated sentences. Genre novels, if the plots manage to be wholly original, annoy me with their bland language, their ultra-noble and -modest heroes, their over villainous villains. Can't we have both?
I know the problem exists mostly within me, that rich treasures in fiction abound and I have much to learn from all of them. To all the Pulitzer winners who I've cursed, who I've ground through fifty pages and then thrown to my bedroom floor, I pledge to you with utter sincerity: "It's not you. It's me."
Still, for now, I find myself stumbling, halting, slogging, as I question every decision an author makes. How poorly read I am, though not for lack of effort, may be my biggest embarrassment as an aspiring novelist. I hope this difficulty is only a phase, and that it passes soon. Regardless, this makes the novels I can still lose myself in all the more special. Here are my top three.
The Savior Complex
2 months ago