I often hear this a lot. Good writing. Fitzgerald was a good writer and The Great Gatsby was an incredible book. That’s not my opinion, I’ve never read it, but I hear that a lot. The Grapes of Wrath, an incredible book by John Steinbeck. Now, this book, I can comment on. But I only have one frame of reference to it. That’s high school. I found it a slog, and while years later I can appreciate it’s overtones and the narrative and how much it equates to what we’re going through right now in this global economy, I still found the book a complete slog.
My only thoughts while reading it were “when the hell is this gonna be over”. I remember reading the section with the turtle (or armadillo, I can’t remember right now) trying to cross the road and how much of a struggle it was while cars ripped past at break neck speed. Years later, it reminded me of a description written by Stephen King in a book that I read more for enjoyment than any home work assignment. In it, King spent a great deal of time explaining how a man’s pacemaker explodes in his chest, making everything sound and feel extremely grueling and slow and painful. Much like that turtle (or armadillo, I can’t remember right now).
Flowers For Algernon was another that I remember quite well, it was a book that I had to read in high school, but it seemed better. There was swearing and naughty bits. My teenage sensibilities were rife with glee over reading a few F-bombs and the supposed promise of boobies. It was better than any porn mag, because I could visualize the boobies, they could be anything I wanted which was often times much better. My imagination was infinitely better than any photo in a magazine. Still, even with the blue language and the verbal porn, I remember the premise of the book. It stuck with me all those years later. Even Grapes of Wrath did, although I never approached Grapes of Wrath in the same way that I approached Flowers For Algernon.
There have been many other books that I’ve read that I have enjoyed, and many that I found to be an incredible slog to try and finish. To date, the only book I haven’t finished due to sheer boredom has been Tom Clancy’s Teeth of the Tiger. I started that book in Prince Albert (the city, not the cock piercing), when I worked for 900 CKBI and Power99 FM. Never finished it, it was way too dry.
Good writing, as it would be described, is individual personal preference. My mother loved In His Steps, while I couldn’t get through the book fast enough and set it aside in order to read Ranks of Bronze. The former had everything to do about tent revivals during the 1930s and finding Christ. The latter had Roman soldiers bought as slaves after a defeat to the Persians. They were bought by aliens and used to fight low tech battles across the galaxy. Was it a great book? Hardly. Was it a fun book? Damn straight it was. Did it compare to the struggles faced by the characters that existed in the book In His Steps? Not even close. But it had space aliens! And that was all I cared about at the time.