Saturday, June 19, 2010

Read As Much As You Can.

I know I've briefly mentioned Paul Haines before, but I've now read both of his books and I cannot recommend them enough. I picked up Slice of Life late last year but it took me while to get around to it - not for any reason except I have a lot of books I need to get around to. Which reminds me. The next two books I read will have to be texts I teach, not books of my own choosing - Year of Wonders and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. After that, of course, I'll be back into the stack next to my bed.

Slice of Life was wonderful. I loved almost everything about it. There was only one story in there that didn't 'click' with me, and funnily enough a friend of mine picked the same story as the only flat spot. But overall it was an absolute joy to read through so I hunted out Paul's earlier book, Doorways for the Dispossessed.

A few stories appeared in both books, but I could live with that - they tended to be the better stories so I happy to re-read them anyway. The selection of stories didn't feel as unified and their ordering didn't seem to flow as well. (I presume he had a smaller body of work from which to choose) There were a number of typos throughout the book - but fortunately that didn't distract too much. It's also obvious his writing isn't as developed as in the later stories, but it was still a great read. Both are recommended!

Another book I picked up was another collection by a local author. I'd read good things about this book, it had some great endorsements on the back by a couple of authors I know personally and a couple of others I've read, and it's on a local imprint that I respect. Unfortunately, it seemed like the book contained every single word he'd ever written. I enjoyed a number of the stories, but too many of them relied on poor puns and jokes that were nowhere near as funny as the writer thought they were. The book should have been around half its size, and then we'd have had a book I'd be recommending.

Why don't I mention it by name?  Because the guy is a good writer and I liked enough of it that I don't want to put people off. I know writing styles often come down to a matter of taste and preference, and I recognise that this book is one that has merit and while I was disappointed in aspects of it, others might love the parts I didn't.

And because I'm only starting out in this field and I don't want to 'dis' local writers, editors and publishers.


Anonymous said...

I believe I know the local-author collection you refer to ... indeed, I believe I may even have written it. And I appreciate your forebearance in not naming it, although as a writer I'd hope I can cope with the bad press along with the good. Anyway, thanks for the honesty of your response to the book, and I'm glad you did at least enjoy parts of it!

Steve Cameron said...

I don't know whether it was your book or not. I've resisted clicking on your hyperlink to find out.

My comments weren't intended as a review, just a commentary on what I'd been reading.

And, as I pointed out,there were a number of stories in there I really enjoyed. The 'punny' stories didn't really work for me (yet others may love them)and I felt the book was overlong. I'd have loved to have see it trimmed to half its size - a tight, slim volume of top notch stories.

And, as I said in my blog entry, the author is a good writer - certainly better than me.

This is why I don't write reviews. I feel terrible when I hurt someone's feelings - but I thought about it last night, and the comments I made were pretty much what I would have said to the author if we were sat face to face in a crit group.

I buy a lot of local and small press books. I feel we need to support these publishers and authors. And I'd love to see these writers continue to succeed.

I truly hope your book does well for you.