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For the last month, I have been in the process of reading a mediocre novel.  I've read about 150 of 350 pages.

The novel has a few things going for it.  A few characters whose guts I don't hate, and a plot that at least holds together.  The author's idea of an antagonist is refreshing.

But it's not a particularly good novel, either.  It took 70 pages to decipher the conflict that is supposed to drive the plot.  And there are too many viewpoints. Several characters are so...precious I'd hit them if I ever saw them.

"Why not just give up?" you may ask.  Well, the author has written some really good stuff in the past. And sometimes I feel like I'm not giving this one enough of a chance.   And sometimes I feel like I owe it to the characters I do like to see their story through.

I wish this novel had actually been bad. Reading a bad novel, I can maintain my suspension of disbelief, since one of the ideas I can suspend disbelieving is that it's any good.  If a story is bad enough, I can sit back and enjoy its craptitude.

But no, it's only mediocre, and every sentence I read sucks a little bit more of my soul away.  When I do pick the thing up, I can't read more than four or five pages before I have to put it down.  And that's on a good day.  Sometimes, I'll carry the thing around all day without reading it, like some talisman of mediocrity  (how appropriate).

Mediocre novels may cause me to stop reading fiction altogether.  But we'll see.  One evening about two weeks ago, I took a break and read a 400-page novel, a good one.

Hmm. I see that some fool takes this writeup too seriously.

Update: 4/20/2002 Two weeks ago I gave up reading the book that inspired this writeup, Charles de Lint's Forests of The Heart. After a brief period of reading nothing, I picked up a good novel and finished it in about three days.

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