Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A Book I Did Not Finish

The last time I did not finish a book was last year in summer; I wrote about that one and my reasons for not finishing it here.
Yesterday, I decided to stop reading "The Second Coming" after getting as far as chapter 8 (page 57 of 376). Why?

This book by John Niven was recommended and lent to me for it being cleverly witty and funny, and I must admit it is. I really like the idea behind it: 
God takes a short holiday, being of the opinion that things on Earth are going pretty well, only to find upon his return (for him, it was only a week of going fishing, but on Earth, several centuries have passed) that all hell has broken loose. There have been two world wars, genocide, famine, new diseases have developed, slavery is still around, mankind has managed to make a hole in the ozone layer and almost empty His oceans of fish, people are killed for ridiculous reasons in the name of religion (not much different to the Dark Age, really), and there are so-called "Christians" everywhere, making a farce out of what God truly meant when he chiselled that first beautiful stone plate in slanting copperplate with the words "Be Nice".

There are two ways God can go from here: Start all over (that's what John and Peter advise him to do), or send His son down again, giving His creation a second chance to learn the true meaning of "Be Nice". God decides on the latter, and Jesus is sent to Earth once more.

There are some brilliant bits in the conversations between God and His team in Heaven. As I said, I really like the idea behind the book, BUT I don't like how that idea is executed: there is such an inflationary use of the f-word, and there seems to be quite a fixation on all things anal, that I honestly couldn't bear reading the entire book, brilliant ideas or not. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not a prude and use the occasional expletive myself, but there is something like overdoing it. And in my opinion, unfortunately, John Niven has been overdoing it in this book. There is hardly a paragraph without the f-word in it; hardly a sentence, come to think of it.
So, although I fully appreciate the humour (and, at the same time, seriousness) in the descriptions of what our world has come to, I will not keep on reading this, but am going to return it to the person who lent it to me.

19 comments:

  1. Hello Meike:
    From what you say here, we rather think that we may be of the same opinion. Gratuitous expletives simply become rather tiresome and are not, in any case, very descriptive.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance,
      I just really think it is a shame that the author has not made better use of his rather original and witty ideas.

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  2. I never heard of this book before and it sounds like my time could be better spent :)

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    1. You are quite right there, Monica :-)

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  3. I have fairly recently concluded that it is far better to give up on a book than to persevere and waste your precious time on it. The F word has its place and context, but gratuitous use devalues god writing. Having said that, I have just read a marvellous book: "Unapologetic", by Francis Spufford. it is one man's experience of Christianity, and while the launguage is certainly peppered with expleteives, somehow he gets away with it.

    I shall avoid the one you write about!

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    1. I meant GOOD writing! (though oddly apt in this context...)

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    2. Apt indeed, Frances!
      Yes, there are so many books out there waiting to be read. I shall not waste my time on one I do not really enjoy.

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  4. I wouldn't bother with a book if the author could come up with a better word when they have so much to choose. It just goes to show what a poor writer they are.

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    1. There are places where the f-word is appropriate, but there is certainly no need for it several times per page.

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  5. Eek!! When you were first describing it I thought "oh that does sound clever"...and I was intrigued. But, that last bit turned me off. As was previously stated here, an author who is any good at all can find other words to use!

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    1. Strangely enough, the author IS a good writer. I just wish he would have avoided the over-use of what could have given the right emphasis at certain points of the descriptions of what our world has come to.

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  6. Good for you, Meike. The reader gets to decide. This author failed to persuade you to continue reading, in fact, he persuaded you to stop. Some of those ideas do sound interesting, but the writing does not!

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    1. Yes, Kristi, it is really the reader to decide whether or not spend time with a certain book or not. The ideas really were very interesting, but they did not outweigh the annoyment I felt at the constant use of expletives.

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  7. My Grandmother taught me about the proper use of that word. She used it only once in her lifetime, and she good and well meant it. That taught me the judicious use of such language.

    Thanks for the warning, i probably couldn't get through it, either.

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    1. Judicious use, that's exactly what I missed in this book!

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  8. Meike - even the cover!!! Although there have been so me books with terrible covers (The Good Soldiers, Cheetah) which have been brilliant books, usually I do just a book by the cover.

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    1. The cover did not put me off, Macy. I've since talked to the person who recommended the book to me; they said that the language gets better further on in the story. But I have given up on the book and don't want to plod through pages of "f..k" until I reach the "better" point :-)

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  9. Hi Meike,
    I don't think I could read that either. I just don't like putting things in my head sometimes that I could do without! Like you, it sounded like maybe a good idea for a book.
    Dorothy

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    1. Hi Dorothy,
      yes, the idea behind the book still appeals to me, but I am not sorry for having let it go without finishing it.

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