Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not a Haiku

My last haiku was obviously too easy, but I can't say I care. I think I like the sound and shape of it best of the four I've written so far. Yes, it was a pillow, and it seems that many of you find your own is calling to you as clearly as mine has been lately (damn these papers to grade!)

Today, though, I am forced to take a break from all of the sweat-inducing haiku stress (just kidding) to discuss a book I am presently reading--and presently loathing.

I hate to criticize books. I hate that I am still reading this particular one, even though I cannot say I've enjoyed a single page of it. Why am I still reading? Perhaps it is because, 226 pages in, I still hope for what I know is hopeless.

Let me explain: While on my recent Jane Austen kick, I discovered a number of spin-off books dealing with Darcy and various other characters. Frankly, I almost bought several of them outright at a bookstore, but I decided to check out a few from the library first. Good thing I did.

The particular book I am loathing/reading is called Darcy's Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold through His Eyes. Sounds like a book right down my alley. I've always found the male perspective intriguing--perhaps more so than the female--and I've always adored the original book. It is on a very short list of books I've read more than five times and intend to read again.

The Preface to the book also sounded promising, describing a teacher who had adored Austen's work, and who finally decided to put her love of Austen, her knowledge of the time period, and her writing skill altogether and create this novel. She certainly knows the book, and for the most part, seems to understand the era in which it was written.

The bad part? She can't write.

Okay, yes, Regina Jeffers can write. She can form words and put them together on a page in a somewhat coherent way. But the words are stilted, the dialogue is putridly lacking in anything worth knowing, and in the course of 226 pages so far, she reveals absolutely NOTHING new about any of the characters. Darcy is lame, obtuse, boring, angst-ridden, and highly undesirable. In attempting to "fill in" the scenes which we don't see in the first novel, Jeffers creates vacuous scenes where absolutely nothing happens. She often relates stupid dialogue--"Oh, I see you have come down early for breakfast today." "Yes, I have some business in town."--and then tells us of exchanges between the characters that would actually be more interesting in extremely brief summary, brushing through the elements I've always wondered about. Characters move about the room for no reason, and she hops in and out of everybody's heads, explaining the feelings behind particular comments when the comments (from the original book) speak for themselves.

I won't even get into the grammar, though the dangling modifiers are frequent enough to make me want to tear out my hair. The writing is drivel, unimaginative and stilted, and had I no knowledge of Austen's classic I would have quit reading in the first chapter.

It's just too bad. As with the seasons of Heroes, I find the idea great, but the execution of that idea falls so far from any semblance of true enjoyment that I felt I had to say something. Even so, despite my lack of time, I will probably finish the vile book. Then I'll take it back to the library, thankful, at least, that I didn't pay a dime for it. I hope none of you do, either.


  1. I won't now... thx for the heads up.

  2. I don't think I would have. I also frequently write from a male point of view and enjoy their thinking. You make me wonder how I would have handled that particular task and yet... I feel like I had a handle on him already.

    I'm sorry you were so disappointed. I know that some of the Austen spin-offs have worked quite well for you so I know it's not just prejudice. Truth is, the best idea can be killed by poor execution just like even the best execution can't really save a dull idea.