But I Know What I DIS-like
By Jeff Salter
This week’s topic is about the kind of book [or genre] we really dislike. Gosh, this is more difficult that I imagined — it’s much easier for me to list what I LIKE in a book. Namely… plot, characters, dialog, setting, premise, and writing that keeps my interest. Those features could be in non-fiction, fiction… or even plays and poetry.
And it’s not as simple as stating what types of reading material “turns me off.” It’s more a matter of me being highly jealous of my reading time and therefore not wanting to waste any of it on something unworthy of my attention. Sound snobbish? Maybe so.
Our Wednesday Fox, Joselyn, had a list which closely parallels my own, in terms of what I don’t wish to read: “stories that contain anything with the occult, demons, fallen angels, vampires, devils, zombies, anything with thick ties to the underworld.” I don’t recall if Joselyn explained WHY she veers from such material, but I suspect it’s for a similar reason to my own: It’s spiritually counterproductive to allow those images inside my head.
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Let me offer two examples of things I read that totally creeped me out.
Having seen a bit of the post publication buzz about this supposedly true story, I happened upon a copy of the book (back around 1977). It started out interesting enough, as I recall — giving a bit of background on the house, the brutal murders which had previously occurred there, and introducing us to the family who’d just purchased the place (unawares) and were moving in. Then the author began describing the going’s on. I had literal chills… and my goosebumps developed goosebumps. I got so scared that I simply could not finish reading. To this day, I don’t think I’ve read the rest, though I have since read some articles that debunk some – perhaps most – of the claims made by that family (or that author). Did all that terrifying stuff really happen? Don’t know… and I won’t be delving into it closely enough to find out. There have been at least two movie versions of this book and I have not seen either — nor do I intend to.
Creepy and Eerie
As a kid, I watched what then were called “horror” movies… but which were nothing like the horror flicks of recent decades (with gore and mindless brutality… and a high count of nubile, often only partly-dressed young bodies). Anyway, along with horror movies of the fifties and sixties, I naturally read some of the more popular horror magazines of that period. Chief among these were Creepy and Eerie. Well, that ended on the occasion when I was reading a bit too late in the evening, after dark… alone in the house. Some story about a detective trying to find out which of the members of the household was the actual vampire. Had a surprise ending… and by the time I’d reached it, I had skeered myself nearly to death. That was the last time – I’m pretty sure – that I read Creepy or Eerie as a kid. Certainly the last time I read either at night… when I was alone.
When the Hero or Heroine Dies at the End
I’m not going to name this author, because I don’t care to bring him any more attention than he already has. [If you simply have to know who I’m referring to — and cannot guess by my context — then just search the term “notebook”.]
This very popular, best-selling author took the reading world by storm after one of his short novels was made into a popular movie. For a while after that, he seemed to crank out title after title in which the heroine died at the end. He seemed to crave causing sobs at his endings. That reputation may or may not be well-deserved — I don’t know. I’ve read only one of his titles and was singularly un-impressed… and therefore felt no yearning to try any others. But at least one acerbic reviewer condensed nearly of this author’s existing novels (at that time) into one basic outline. And the outline of nearly all ended with the death of the heroine. Is that unfair to this author? I don’t know. Maybe some of you have read all of his work and can say whether he has more variety than this particular reviewer found at that point. But my observation in all this is simply that I have no desire to read a book in which I’ve become fond of the major characters… and then have them die on me. No, I don’t want to cry at the end of a story.
Are there other types of material I should not read? Certainly. There are numerous things I should not pollute my mind with. But, in addition, I don’t wish to waste valuable reading time on anything that’s poorly written, poorly edited, or material using unreliable (or even altered) research. I don’t wish to read authors who “talk down” to me, as if I’m a nincompoop. On the other hand, I also don’t care for ultra-detailed scientific mumbo-jumbo… because I’m not smart enough to understand it. And I don’t care!
What about YOU? What type books (or genres) do you dislike?
[JLS # 383]