Lost Hours

empty-hourglassAs a book critic, you learn to put aside (as much as humanly possible) your personal tastes and judge a book on its own merit. There’s the old John Updike advice to evaluate what the author intended to do, and don’t criticize him for failing to achieve something he didn’t intend to attempt.

Also, as a publishing industry observer, you learn to understand why books have a certain sales appeal. Once again, you can ignore personal taste and understand why editors might sign up a book and readers might purchase it. Maybe you don’t like cats, but you understand that anything with cute animals sells like crazy so it’s reasonable that editors snatch that stuff up.

Nonetheless, I had the displeasure of losing several hours to a wretched piece of shit novel this past weekend. I wasn’t assigned this book, so I didn’t have to finish it. But it was so foul and so poorly written that I forced myself to finish it. I kept thinking, “This just has to get better at some point.” But it never did. This book was so bad that I feel like the author (or publisher) owes me a refund for the purchase price. But they can’t pay back the time I, like an idiot, devoted to this thing.

I looked the book up in Publishers Marketplace and it sold to a prominent editor for a six-figure sum. And I’m utterly dumbfounded as to why. So now I’m just dumb. And, like an embarrassed college kid with a hangover, wondering why I didn’t stop sooner.

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