It is disappointing to put down a book after reading 100 pages or more, to decide that it is not worth going on that the process is a chore rather than a pleasure. I had been slogging through the farm-family novel waiting for lightning to strike, for the work to come alive. If I hadn’t picked up Harrison’s novel to read a few pages out of curiosity to see whether it was well written or just a potboiler, I might have soldiered on reading in unending detail about every aspect of the lives and labors of Nineteenth Century farmers. But Harrison caught me, the pleasure of sailing rather than slogging kept me reading his book to the end.
The word pleasure stuck up like a snow-capped mountain in my mind as I considered the two novels. Having experienced kidney stones and a couple of other awful agonies, I often said to my wife, Rae, that the absence of pain is pleasure. Googling pleasure, I immediately came across Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, and was shocked to discover he said the same thing over 2,000 years ago.
At any rate, the role of the writer is to deliver a pleasurable experience to the reader. Sometimes that thrill comes after I have forced my way up hill through some heavy words and sentences. And, sometimes I just can’t go on, the writer has failed me, has failed to provide a twist that interests or a view that inspires.
Next time, I will discuss Harry Harrison’s novel MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! and SOYLENT GREEN, the film it inspired.
A SUGGESTION: my novel, OOOEELIE, is well worth reading. Free on Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.