I don't read much contemporary fiction, unless it has Montana or Wyoming roots, but I am wasting the summer reading "Absolute Power," a potboiler of a political thriller that was made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman.
The only thing worth mentioning is that the author, David Baldacci, has sold 40 million books. Forty million. And he can't write a lick. Maybe he learned something after writing "Absolute Power," which was his first novel, but this one has clunkers on every page. The New York Times called it a "mountain of thudding prose" -- and that was the film critic. I can imagine what the book critic must have thought.
You'd think a guy who wants to write novels for a living would bother to learn the craft. But if he can sell 40 million books, maybe it doesn't matter.
I won't waste your time by quoting from the book, except for this brilliant bit: In one strained metaphor, he refers to "the pot of gold at the end of the striped apparition."
OK. I'm ready to die now.
UPDATE: 6 Generations asks, sensibly enough, why waste time reading a poorly written book? Several reasons:
1. Bad habits. I finish bad books for the same reason I eat everything on my plate. There's some poor kid in China who would give anything to have a badly written book.
2. Some poorly written books are worth reading. Exhibit 1: David Halberstam. Terrible writer, in my view, but a terrific reporter who must be read. He is the example I use when journalism students go into despair that they can't write well enough to make a living at it. This particular novel has an premise interesting enough that I still want to know how it turns out (although I have been reading very ... very ... slowly).
3. You can learn a lot from poor writing. The trouble with good writers is that they are so skilled I can't figure out how they do it. With bad writers, I can see all of the seams between the joints, all the badly fitted boards and missing nails. I think: I could do better than that. The good ones just intimidate me.