When Urania was young/ All thought her heavenly/ With age her eyes grow larger/ But her form unmaidenly

Monday, March 24, 2008

DBD Is Not ADD, I Swear

Beth persuaded me I had to do something other than work. I ordered some books but they won’t be here for weeks, so I picked up a couple to see if I could repeat last week’s rare success and actually read one. If I had the stomach for it, I’d be writing about whether romantic suspense novelists were as bad at suspense as cheap other-genre writers were at romance. But I couldn’t get past chapter three on either of the comparison books.

Okay, Atlantis by David Gibbins – a archeological/geopolitical thriller. In the prologue, Solon the Lawgiver gets mugged in Egypt (don’t ask) by Egyptians disappointed by getting screwed by Greeks in a trade deal. He not only loses the priest-dictated manuscript a fragment of which will provide the vital klew about Atlantis 2500 years later, but also his memory of that particular dictation session. When our brilliant twenty-first century archeologists encounter the fragment as part of the papyrus burial shroud for a mummy, they intuit not only that it (1) was written by Solon; (2) he was mugged; (3) he lost his memory; but even (4) that the Egyptians who did it (!) were pissed about a trade deal. Not that there’s anything about that in the fragment. They’re just real Sherlocks. Elementary, my dear semi-literates.

But it’s not the general idiocy that made me stop reading. It was this passage on that third page of chapter 3:

“Jack, I don’t believe you met [female character A.]”
Her penetrating green eyes were almost level with his own and she smiled as she shook his hand. “Please call me [first name.]” Her English was accented but, a result of 10 years’ study in America and England after she had been allowed to travel from the Soviet Union. Jack knew of [character A] by reputation, but had not expected such an immediate attraction. (Audible groan for both the sentiment and the prose, but that’s still not the point.) Normally Jack was able to focus completely on the excitement of a new discovery, but this was something else. He could not take his eyes off her. (Inaudible groan only because I was getting habituated and STILL not the point.)
Her long black hair swung as as she turned to introduce her colleague, “And this is my assistant [female character B] from the Moscow Institute of Paleography.”
In contrast to [character A]’s well-dressed elegance, [character B] was distinctly in the Russian peasant mold. She looked like one of the propaganda heroines of the Great Patriotic War, thought Jack, plain and fearless. She was struggling beneath a pile of books but looked him full in the eyes as he offered his hand.”

Okay, here’s a quiz.

Which character do you suppose Davey boy named: “Katya Svetlana?”

Which character did he name “Olga Ivanovna?”

Did that hurt you as much as it hurt me? But that’s still not why I stopped reading. I’d have done ANTHING (well, not anything – I wouldn’t have paid money for the book which I found on a giveaway shelf – but I would have finished it once I started) IF Olga had gotten to be the love interest, instead of purrfect Katya and her svelte Svetlanahood. If the peasant-looking woman turns out to be fascinating and witty, an utter revelation in bed, her passion and erotic skill rendering irrelevant her peasant features (Yes! It does happen! Even in fiction! Read Fifth Business!) eclipsing the paint-by-numbers love interest – I’d have fiished the whole book, despite the rackety-clackety plot and characters and the embarrassing writing. At least it would have been different. And maybe even sexy. But beats me what happens to Olga – Katya and Jack are thoroughly bonded by the end of the book, and the bad guys dead and flipping through the book I don’t see anything about “Olga” – maybe she gets bumped off early. Yeah, read parts of the last chapter, which is about all I could manage with And Justice for All by Linda Style -, what I thought was a mystery but is in fact a Harlequin Super Romance. In “Larger print”, which is good for people with eyes as bad as mine – my peers, the late middle-aged and the elderly. Jesus God, you’d think they’d have adult reading tastes by then.

The last line of the Style (I think the pseudonym is ironic and it was written by an unemployed semiotics PhD):Super Romance:

“And when his lips met hers, she knew her heart was his forever.”

I could have lived with thought rather than knew, although the sentence would still have squicked me. Thought would be an indictment of the character rather than the author and her readers. But knew? A kiss can give you a pretty good notion of what’s in store for the next 2 minutes to12 hours (although there’s many a slip twixt the lips and the clit) but oh never mind. This isn’t even worth arguing.

A colleague with a great deal more insight than I have in relationships said in counseling the most damaged and damaging women he’s met are the forty year olds who still doodle “Ronnie and me 4-Ever” when a new man comes into their life, but fortunately for them – fortunately in the short term - many Ronnies are not all that discerning, or have damage of their own. Really, though, how do adult women read lines like that above and and get that romantical feeling? It’s like responding erotically to pornographic tentacle anime. And if some guys do that, please PLEASE don’t tell me.


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