In my Fiction Writing class the professor is having us keep “Reading Journals”, a.k.a., journals we write in about stuff we’re reading. For this same class we are reading a novel called, “The Financial Lives of The Poets”, by Jess Walker. (I DO NOT suggest you read it.) Since this book was the first new reading I had done since beginning the class, I wrote about it in my first RJ entry.
Here it is for you all to read. My honesty opinion on this book.
One word comes to my mind after reading the first two chapters of Jess Walker’s “The Financial Lives of the Poets”; empty. I don’t know Mr. Walker, and I have a lot of respect for someone who has taken the time to painstakingly write a novel and get it published, but whatever happened to writing something with substance? Something that made you want to stay up all night to read it, that gave you something more than just modern words printed in black letters on a white page. Though this story does have a theme, an idea your everyday reader can relate to – the threat of foreclosure, a struggling marriage, worries for family and the future – it does nothing. It doesn’t pull at me or draw me in. A small part of me wants to care about what happens to these people because of their situation, but that’s it. The first chapter was enough to make me want to stop reading. Call me old fashion, but reading a novel filled with dialogue where the F-bomb is dropped after every other word, is not something I personally, want to be spending my time in.
It’s hard to put into words what I got out of these first two chapters or lack of. There was no hope, the feeling of depravity seemed to bleed from the pages, but maybe that’s what the author wanted. If so, he did it. For me, that’s not what fiction is. Sure it’s only the first two chapters, and things are bound to get much worse before they can get better, but fiction should give the reader hope. It’s an escape, a sanctuary, a place to be reminded that no matter how bad things are, there’s always hope for better days to come. It should give you a sense of fulfillment, not emptiness. I might be the only person reading this book who thinks this way, but it’s the truth.
Maybe it’s my Christian belief that brings this idea, but even so, who wants to read a story devoid of hope and empty of anything worth filling your mind with?
Christian beliefs aside, fiction, a story worth reading needs to have substance. A good theme or good characters won’t give you substance or meaning, even giving your audience something to relate too won’t. Substance is more than words; it’s the foundation the story is built on.
I guess in a nut shell, chapters one and two of “The Financial Lives of the Poets”, left me feeling sad and drained instead of fulfilled.