Sunday, October 14, 2007

And now I feel terrible.

Curse my impecunious state! If only I'd bought more books from A Common Reader! After writing that last post, I tried to access the website and found to my horror that the company went bankrupt a year and a half ago. What a loss to the reading world, and how sad to see yet another small business go under. I wish I were not forced to buy books inexpensively, when I do buy them; I try to shop at Powell's when I can, but the rest of the time, Amazon is all too tempting.

Well, even though it won't bring back A Common Reader, in their memory I will do my best to support small local bookstores from now on. Buying books is always a hardship, but somehow I'll manage...
Vexatious reality! How rarely you fulfill anticipation!

When A Common Reader recommends a book, I am all attention. After all, it was in those diminutive newsprint pages that I was first introduced to Edith Pargeter, Alice Thomas Ellis, and Patrick O'Brian, to name a noteworthy few. And to label a book a TGR--well! I don't even have to write that title on my list--it burns there in letters of gold.

Sadly, my impecunious state usually keeps me from purchasing A Common Reader's delightful tomes, and I rely on the library system to supply what it can. Thus Elisabeth Luard's Emerald had been on the list for years--since college, at least--with no luck in the libraries of New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska, California, Tennessee, or Oregon (yes, I have library cards in all but one of those states--as previously mentioned, I have an addiction), until I happened to think of it, purely by chance, last week in Lake Oswego. I'll admit my fingers trembled a little as I took it down from the shelf, though that may have been owing more to the sheer exhaustion of hauling around a teething, highly active eight-month-old in town all day, than to the wonder of finding that the book existed after so many years of anticipation.

But vexatious reality reared her ugly head. Emerald is indeed a fast-paced drama with steamy twists and turns, following the adventurous and mysterious life of the daughter of Edward VIII, the man who would not be king, because of Mrs Simpson; but if it had not been recommended by A Common Reader, I would never have read past the first page. How do these first novels ever get published? What editor unleashes on the world such cliches, such unending pages of simple sentences, such clunking prose? What writer doesn't know the first rule of writing--"show, don't tell"?

Oh dear. After David Herter's email, I was supposed to be nicer to writers. Hrm. Ms Luard, my apologies. I'm sure you wish your novel were better written, too. And I will freely admit that I stayed up late to finish it. Even if I can't echo A Common Reader's accolades, I can give Emerald that much recommendation.