Titles that tell the whole story
Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff. Saves me ever having to read it. It took an hour to get thru the title. There are too many examples like this to post them all. Fiction and Non-fiction are equally impacted by this awful trend.
Title: A Novel
And why do they tack on “A Novel….”??? That really bugs me. It’s fiction. We get it.
Characters with stupid, unbelievable names
Slip? Alaska? Carson? Periwinkle? Tibby? All for women? I could go on and on with this. Often they are such a turn-off I put them back on the shelf and forget them. Even when I do love the book ( Looking for Alaska or the Cherry Cola Book Club series) it doesn’t make me remember more about the character–I just get the name as a sort of literary earworm.
Ever since Harper Lee’s Scout came along this has gone beyond an occasional oddity. It’s now almost mandatory. And Harper Lee wasn’t even called “Harper” in real life!! It’s one thing in a certain category of Romance novels to have someone named Myst or something equally unreal, but I’ve honestly never known anyone with a stupid nickname, unless you count guys forced to answer to Bud, Chip, Junior or Skip. Yet they’re EVERYWHERE in novels. Some authors, like Pat Conroy or Anne Tyler, make this seamless. Everywhere else they mostly merit an exaggerated eye-roll.
Another aspect of this is names not even given in the years of the story. Do authors not know that you can look up the popularity of a name? I suppose the one girl named, say, Dimitri, who is 53 in the story was born in a log cabin to reclusive parents who feared the government and so never registered her birth and she magically made it thru life without need of a Social Security card? Please…. Keep it real.
The Name Claire
Or Clare. I’ve met one Clare in my life. One. Maybe it’s just the area where I live. I have heard of some girls with that name now. And, one of my great-grandmothers was named Clara–like in the Nutcraker. But in novels? If they aren’t named Kate or Tess, they are ALL named Clare! I honestly have started a spreadsheet to track them all! Geeky? Sure, but it’s that bad.
Graphic sex that doesn’t do anything for the story
Slipping in a memory of licking an eyeball made me throw a book across the room and never finish it. Then there was the book where the author just had to tell us her character licked the sweat from hubs a#& crack…yum….brain bleach please……Don’t even get me started on The Signature of All Things and the library closet….yick.
Copying Book Covers
I realize the author often has no say at all on this. But,seriously? Does the marketing department think I’m so wildly unfocused that I’ll pick up the wrong book?? Or that since I bought the original I’ll buy others with cloned covers?? So many best-sellers have cloned covers it’s ridiculous.
I really don’t know what this style is called so I’ve Christened it “plural narrative.” On Amazon one reviewer put it best when she asked how she was to relate to this style of storytelling. “All our Marsha’s” and the rest just make it difficult to follow the story–and to accept it as credible. Both of these books should have been incredibly interesting. But they were like literature class poetry–forced. Make this go away and stay away. Do not write like this. All your Marsha’s will thank you.