November 6, 2014

Finish Everything?

Over at The Atlantic, Juliet Lapidos says she finishes every novel she starts to read and takes on The Rule of Fifty

“The most common defense of book-dropping I hear is that because there are more good books than any one person could possibly read, it’s stupid to waste time on a dull or otherwise unsatisfactory novel. That argument makes sense if the novel is utter trash—if it’s so bad that the reader needn’t respect the author and would possibly get dumber by going forward. But if a novel starts well and descends into trash, then it seems to me that it’s worth continuing to see if it gets better, or to see where the writer went wrong.”

I don't know. I'm not persuaded by the argument. There's a fair number of books I'm sorry I finished. Some I had to; some I wanted to. Lapidos suggests that saying of an author "Oh, yeah, I've heard of that author" is a lasting insult, but I think there's a world of difference between saying "I didn't care for that book" and "That book is no good" or "So-and-so is a terrible writer." I doubt that my pronouncement could sway a published writer's reputation. I'm going to stick with the rule of fifty.

Via The Paris Review