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David Hines [userpic]

authors you love, stuff you hate

April 8th, 2009 (01:15 pm)

Feeling somewhat less like crap today. ...yay?

To distract myself, a question: are there authors you love, absolutely flat-out love, but who have a quirk of some kind that drives you ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NUTS?

For me: George Pelecanos. I *love* George Pelecanos. The most brilliant crime novelist working today. He knows DC, he writes DC; he knows ins and outs of lots of social scenes, from the street to restaurants to cops to crooks to men trying to delude themselves -- the guy is just flat out garking brilliant, with terrific storylines and characters and dialogue. A lot of his stories deal with the various unwritten rules of racial interaction, and he's very smart about them; he's got a great eye for how characters of different ages and backgrounds talk, and what they say. (Pelecanos does better than anyone else, for example, at writing gangsta dialogue. Because when most white writers try it, they try really hard to make it sound "different" and "hard" and turn it into ghastly minstrel-show shit, but Pelecanos has an absolutely marvelous technique of writing such dialogue and making it believable without being distracting for us Standard English types. No surprise that the guy wrote for THE WIRE.)

But there is one thing about Pelecanos that drives me absolutely up the wall. He is a music guy. I'm very much not. I like music, now -- I love to sing sea shanties, for example, which irritated one ex-girlfriend no end -- but basically, pretty much every song that somebody makes a vid to is something I have never heard of. I don't listen to lots of music, I don't talk music, I almost never turn on the radio, sometimes a month or two goes by without me even opening iTunes, OK? This makes me totally the opposite of George Pelecanos. If he is writing a period novel, for example, he will write about the songs on the radio. The stations the characters listen to. Who the DJs were. He will write about local bands, and who is playing where, and when. If it is a modern story, then he will have his characters *reminisce* about Back In The Day when they would listen to radio station X, and DJ Y, and songs Z, ZZ, and ZZZ Plural Z Alpha. For PAGES. Sometimes he has his older characters talk about Their Time, and they define it by the music they listened to. EVERY BOOK. LOTS OF IT. Swear to God, it drives me NUTS. But I keep reading him, because he's that brilliant.

Anybody else have a beloved writer who has a tic that drives 'em nuts?


Posted by: Lucy (cereta)
Posted at: April 8th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)

Agatha Christie had a tendency to drop French into her novels with no translation. Now, okay, appropriate to audience, and I've since learned it was apparently really bad French, but as a reader, it drove me nuts, because there were parts of conversations I couldn't understand.

Joseph Hansen never heard of falling action. Many, many of his books end like a page after the climax.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)

French for no reason. Yeah, I can see that.

Posted by: tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
Greek to me

And don't forget Dorothy L. Sayers, who did this not just with French - including, in one book, lengthy letters entirely in French with no translation - but also with Latin. I mean, I understand why she did it, and also that it was appropriate to her audience, but this drove me NUTS when I was a teenager reading her novels.

Posted by: Elspeth (elspethdixon)
Posted at: April 8th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)

I want! To stab! Stab Lee! To death! With his own exclamation points!!!

And there are several writers I love whose liberal or conservative politics tend to show in annoyingly preachy ways in their writing, and several more authors from previous historical eras whose otherwise brilliant stuff will occasionally have a piece of blatant racial stereotyping that will make me cringe, but that's a general trend rather than a specific author's quirk.

Also, women in Robert Jordan novels need to never sniff or yank on their braids/hair again.

Hmmm... do authors that are only liked instead of beloved count? Because in that case there's also Fiona Patton, an SF author whom I swear to God started out writing slash fanfiction, because she does the same incessant "the taller man/the shorter man," "the older man/the younger man" (often based on very small age differences) thing that makes me want to hit fanfiction writers with a stick that has the characters' names written on it.

Posted by: Elleria (elleria)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 07:02 am (UTC)

Somebody else has heard of Fiona Patton! yay! I've read her fantasy and she does that there too.

Posted by: Elspeth (elspethdixon)
Posted at: April 11th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)

I was sloppily using SF as an umbrella term for sci-fi and fantasy -- the first thing by her that I read was The Stone Knight, and the older man/younger man stuff nearly made me put the book down unfinished during the first few chapers, til I made the mental adjustment of just thinking of it as some kind of subset of Sentinel slash.

Posted by: Elleria (elleria)
Posted at: April 13th, 2009 06:23 am (UTC)

Ah, ok. The first thing I read of her's was The Painter Knight. And I'd never read slash or heard of slash before then so I just thought of it as gay sex. Or at least inuendo for gay sex. The story was really good though so I read the rest of the books set in the same world/series.

Posted by: A large duck (burger_eater)
Posted at: April 8th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)

For a while, the Harry Dresden books were full of scenes in which Harry's friends reassured him that he's a good person. Thankfully, that was pretty much missing from the latest book.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)

I just got sick of him crying, dude.

Posted by: A large duck (burger_eater)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Child of Fire

Ah-HAH! You're one of them! One of the readers that made my editor insist I cut the crying scene from my own book!


Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 09:52 am (UTC)

Dude, one book wouldn't be so bad, but Harry was doing it *every damn time.* After the third or fourth book in a row, I started to feel the need for a John Wayne movie marathon just to balance things out.

Posted by: A large duck (burger_eater)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)

I'm crying right now as I read your comment.

There was a time a couple years ago when I was desperate to find a debut novel that had a forthright, charge-ahead protagonist. A modern Conan.

Instead, I kept finding books about intrigue, treachery and life-or-death matters of etiquette. The straw that crippled the camel was A Shadow in Summer, in which (IIRC) every line of dialog was punctuated with a description of ritualized body language. "I don't have the pork dumplings. Would lamb be acceptable?" Albert asked, assuming a pose of mild but professional regret.

After a couple of chapters, I wanted to jump out of my skin. So not for me. I ended up reading a couple Kurt Busiek Conan comics instead.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 8th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)

Among current favorites I can't think of anyone. I used to be absolutely wild about anything written by Anne McCaffrey but I hated that most of her heroines were slutty.

In the past decade or so I've lost interest in McCaffrey for other reasons. Her more recent books just don't don't do it for me and I have the older ones practically memorized.

Posted by: Maire (mkcs)
Posted at: April 9th, 2009 08:33 am (UTC)

I really, really wish Dorothy L. Sayers had known more about lesbians and lesbianism. Her racism is pretty offputting, too. Both seem so incredibly out of character.

Posted by: Kevin L (cikevin)
Posted at: April 9th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
I am NaN

I love the Fletch books by Gregory MacDonald, and one of Mr. MacDonald's strengths is his snappy dialogue. Sometimes it goes back and forth for more than a page without any non-quoted text to remind the reader who's talking, though. I'd be in the middle of a conversation between two people who don't talk that differently, and I'd lose track of which character was saying what. I'd have to go back a page and then start more or less counting odd/even to keep track of who was saying which witty thing.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)

Oooh, good point. I am a huge fan of the Fletch books, and that is a real problem sometimes.

Posted by: Elleria (elleria)
Posted at: April 10th, 2009 07:07 am (UTC)

I've mostly had this problem with female authors, and just because I want to I can't remember the name of the worst offender just now, but I hate when they have to go into detail on what the characters are wearing when it has absolutely NO bearing on the plot. And I mean exact, specific, everything from the brand of the shoes to the brand and cut of the jacket, detail. It is so very annoying.

Posted by: Elspeth (elspethdixon)
Posted at: April 11th, 2009 06:30 am (UTC)

Anita Blake wears Nikes with blue swooshes on them. I kind of hate that I know this.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 12th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)

I'd also like to nominate the late Robert Jordan and his "Wheel of Time" fantasy series, but not for the incessant braid-tugging (and Jordan also seemed to have a serious schoolgirl-spanking fetish going on that approached OH JOHN RINGO NO! territory).

What drove me nuts about Jordan was that every time you turned around you'd get a three-page dissertation about what was going through the mind of whichever viewpoint character Jordan was focusing on at that particular time. And then Jordan would, as often as not, use the extended thoughts of that character to introduce a bunch of backstory or a totally new plot thread...and for every plotline Jordan resolved you'd get three or four more to keep track of.

And then, often as not, the character would have another thought...and off we'd go again...

Don't get me wrong: I really enjoyed the WoT. However, when I saw the book-jacket biography of the author that proclaimed that Jordan intended to continue writing "until they nailed shut his coffin," I figured that, with all the mental navel-gazing going on in the minds of his various characters, that Jordan would still be trying to complete the Wheel of Time when they broke out the hammers.

And that's exactly what happened, damnit.

Reportedly, Brandon Sanderson ("Elantris," "Mistborn") has been commissioned by Jordan's widow to complete the series (supposedly there's just one book remaining).

From all the plot threads Jordan left dangling while covering more important things like Nynaeve's braid tugging and Egwene's latest strapping and everybody else examining their thoughts in the minutest detail, Sanderson has his work cut out for him...

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