Sunday, 13 July 2014
Dare Me by Megan Abbott
So instead of showing the something we begin with telling us something happened. I actually know that something must happen or what is the book about? Better to begin with the something, which I would presume is the hook, at least I hope it is.
The rest of the first paragraph is:
"I think you better come."
In other words, "Addy, hurry up! The novel is beginning! Where are you? Get over to page 1 as quickly as you can! Like, now!"
The air is heavy, misted, fine.
Isn't this a bit of a contradiction of terms? Heavy and fine. Something can't be both heavy and fine, unless fine means okay or nice. Oh well, I guess we'll never know for sure what is meant. Cryptic sentences like this is what can lead to hours of discussion by bored, drunken, disillusioned writers all over the world. Plus, listing the adjectives like that, gives them a sense of isolation, as if each wields a power all its own, which means this is an attempt at the artsy-fartsy but fails - of course.
There's still more confusion with what comes next:
It's coming on two a.m. and I'm high on the ridge, thumb jammed against the silver button 27-G.
Then the person is buzzed in and presto! she's in the lobby. But I thought she was high on the ridge. Hm? Like the fool I am, I actually googled ridge to see if there is some urban slang term perhaps used by thirteen-year old girls in northern Saskatchewan who are afraid of heights and have freckles or something. I couldn't find anything except what ridge actual means: a long narrow hilltop, mountain range, or watershed. So I don't understand how this character goes from a ridge to a lobby.
Then we get some poor grammar:
...Beth and me wedged tight...
Anyway after this short prologue in which we learn nothing but that the narrator is somewhat hysterical, we come to chapter 1:
Four months ago
After a game, it takes a half hour under the showerhead to get all the hairspray out.
Of course chapter one does not continue where the prologue leaves off. I wonder if this is the hook, the conflict, because a full half hour in the shower is dangerous for the skin, not to mention all that hairspray which can cause heart palpitations, nausea, dehydration and tumors. Then:
To peel off all the sequins...
Sometimes you stand under the hot gush for so long, looking at your body, counting every bruise.
God, how I love this crap. I love to learn about new ways to abuse the English language. It's all about the reader - you - for the first page, and what you do under the hot gush. Another Calvino in the making?
You're really just trying to get your heart to slow down. [That's what too much hairspray will do]
You think, this is my body and I can make it do things. I can make it spin, flip, fly.
After, you stand in front of the steaming mirror... [A steaming mirror is a fire hazard]
You don't look like anybody at all.
Personally, I don't look at my body in the hot gush. When I take a hot gush, I keep my eyes closed. But then again, I only usually take a five-minute hot gush, not a half hour hot gush. Come to think of it, after writing this paragraph, I'm beginning to feel dirty and am desirous of taking a hot gush.
Then one more peculiar sentence:
At first, cheer was something to fill my days, all our days.
Mine too? Woe! I mean, wow!
The Book of Peculiar Sentences would be a more apt title for this crapola. However, without any obvious cliches in the opening, the worst I can give this is a 2-star fail. I will read on, out of respect for the newest member of the Horrible Writers Club.
I found a funny comment in Goodreads that sheds more light on this book's writing:
I can't even go far enough in this book to find out the premise. I do not even care. This is god awful. This is the worst kind of writing (edit: FINE. THE WORST KIND to me. I suppose you're allowed to like it). So many analogies that don't actually even MEAN ANYTHING. You can't just... say things... and call it writing.
"wishbone arms?" What do you mean by that? What is that? So, what? They're... all bowed out? They're skinny? They're dried out like after it comes out of a turkey and sits for a while? They're IN THE MIDDLE OF A BIRD?
"hair like a long taffy pull" - okay, so... it's sticky hair? It's wide at one end, and then at the other end it's all thinned out and white and stringy?
YOU CAN'T JUST SAY WORDS THAT SOUND PRETTY AND "AUTHORY" AND CALL IT WRITING. THEY NEED TO MEAN ACTUAL THINGS.