Why I Hate Novels

For any random reason, I am in the middle of Scott Turow’s Reversible Errors. So far, it reminds me why I hate novels.

I can’t explain why. Something just snapped in high school, and since then I have found every piece of fiction to be far from worth the effort. There are disconnects and ways of storytelling that just aren’t allowed on the stage that seem to be perfectly fine in fiction, whether it’s the genre fiction I’m reading now or in “literature.” And it drives me batty.

I previously mentioned my dislike of novels and other works that succumb to their geography. I confess now that I was mainly taking a shot at Arundhati Roy and her God of Small Things. I get cranky enough sitting in the audience. What’s going on? Why are we listening to these people? Who’s the guy in the hat?

Onstage, answers to these questions need to come swiftly and clearly, otherwise you will lose audience members with every line. But novels don’t live line by line, their pace is one of leisure. But I am no different as a reader than I am as an audience member: my leisure can come only when I know why everybody’s saying what they’re saying. I could not find a rhythm in Roy’s novel that could satisfy my discomfort to her constant shifts in time. I know she left her family and their environment as anchors, but I still felt adrift.

Turow’s novel is in every way worse. Not only does time jump, but Turow’s selectively omniscient narrator pulls the reader in and out of the heads of at least four of his characters. There is often no reason why we need to gain the (often romantic) thoughts of his characters. I don’t care who makes love to whom, I just want to get my Law and Order on!

Instead, I am lost in a fictional Chicago landscape, wondering why I have returned to a form of storytelling that leaves me with more questions than answers.

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