Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In which I try a cozy and a romance and fail miserably

I just tried to read two books: Erin McCarthy's Bled Dry and Kate Carlisle's Homicide in Hardcover. These works are in genres I don't usually read—romance and mystery cozies, respectively—but I liked the sound of each and figured I might enjoy the books. That I didn't could say more about my dislike of these genres than anything else, but for what it's worth, here are my thoughts on each.

Homicide in Hardcover, by Kate Carlisle, identifies itself as "A Bibliophile Mystery" on the cover; this is the first book in the series. The main character, Brooklyn Wainwright, lives in SF and works as a book restorer. She grew up on a commune with her hippie-ish (but rich, we are told, still very rich) parents. She has a trust fund. So do her other friends. They are rich, rich, rich. She went to Harvard. She now has her own business. There is a hot British cop in the book. I wanted to love this, I really did, because I almost always enjoy mystery novels about book lovers, but I found the voice of the main character in this one a bit too wooden.

Here she is on meeting her mentor (from whom she's been estranged) at a party:

I'd missed him, loved him like a favorite uncle. This was the first time I'd seen him since severing our business relationship, but he was acting as if we'd never been apart. It was a little weird, but I was happy (12).

There are, I should say, a few establishing paragraphs before this, but I have to say that if this is the lump sum of her emotional reaction in this difficult situation, an indication of her texture as a character, then it does not work for me; the passage feels like something between shorthand and a business memo, not a revelation of feelings. A similar flatness, or even glibness, comes again when the narrator tells us about her love life:
I wasn't surprised to find myself attracted to Derek Stone since I clearly had no clue when it came to choosing appropriate men. Recently, my own family had forbidden me to act alone when it came to dating, simply because I'd been engaged three times without closing the deal. I didn't know what the big deal was. So I picked the wrong men. Who didn't? (61)

I don't even know what to say about the fact that the hero's name is Derek Stone, or that Brooklyn Wainwright (if she marries him, she can be Brooklyn Stone) nearly faints in his arms on their second or third meeting. Anyway, my point is that a book restorer—someone who spends hours working meticulously on books; someone who is well versed in arcane history and knowledge; someone who thinks carefully about details; someone who probably reads a lot about, well, many topics—should be more articulate and thoughtful than this narrator is. I don't care if she's not aware of her own feelings. I don't even care if she's simply being flip. I simply believe she should be able to express herself more eloquently than she does in this book, and that made her unconvincing (and really pretty annoying) to me as a character, and so I couldn't finish the novel.

The second book I chose, Bled Dry, by Erin McCarthy, is one of an ongoing series about a group known as the Vegas Vampires. In this one, a young woman named Brittany Baldizzi discovers that her one-night stand with the dashing French vampire Corbin Jean Atelier has made her pregnant. Wow. You know, I really have nothing else to say here. What on god's earth was I thinking even trying to read this? I hate pregnancy stories. I don't even like Las Vegas.

In conclusion, I'd like to warn you all against haphazardly purchasing books. On any given night in the bookstore, you might delude yourself into thinking, Sure, I've never liked this kind of book before, but hey, I just might this time! What I have found is that you will not. You are stupid and will soon be very annoyed with yourself for not having gone to the library instead.

But THEN, you would think, How can I even go to the library in a town where the libraries all close at 8:00 p.m.? How is that an at all reasonable time for a library to close? I cannot go to the library, you would finally have to realize. Then, perhaps, you'd think, I know! I'll try to go on Saturday! At 7:00! So you would attempt that, too, and know what? The library closes at 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays, so you would fail then as well. It makes me sad and angry that this town has failed to fund its libraries adequately—and now, they are even thinking of closing one.

Hm. The hours are actually a bit better than i thought. Still, the libraries need more money, and no one should purchase books haphazardly and foolishly. I will not back down on these controversial and important points.


  1. I will concede on the point that the libraries need more money.

    However, I disagree strongly with your second point. I have been purchasing books haphazardly and foolishly for most of my life and have come to no harm.

    I would urge others to do the same.

  2. Staff at the Library are equally concerned about our hours being cut back. Note that the proposed closing is of not one, but two branches, and that's in addition to further reductions in hours at other locations. But there's no other real alternative within the budgetary constraints the Library was given to work with.