Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Agenda 21: On Literature

Agenda 21, pp. 107-110

We're coming up on one of this novel's many lulls, so I'm going to do something a little different and address the writing on a more basic level. Remember that woman who said she had edited this book before it had Glenn Beck's name on it? She suggested that while the politics in the book were preposterous, the book was overall enjoyable - that the prose was competent and even good at times and that a more "cerebral" spec-fic audience would appreciate the worldbuilding.

Now, the second part is obviously a crock. If you think I've been picky, try handing this thing over to one of those guys who refers to his favorite authors as "prophets." Believe me, we'd still be back on Chapter Two trying to figure out how the hell the "download bars" are supposed to work. But what about the first part - that the prose is passable? I haven't addressed that since the first few posts, and I will grant you that the mechanical aspects of this book are definitely the least offensive. But are they "good"?

And would I even know if it was good? Years back, I made fun of a blogger who...let's say was very "enthusiastic" in her approach to persuasive writing. A fan of hers who claimed to be an editor showed up and gave me hell - how dare a prole like you criticize such an accomplished writer, I've been a professional for years and there's nothing wrong with 108-word run-on sentences.

So obviously, as a digital barbarian removed from the world of legitimate publishing, I have only a shadow of a clue as to what I'm looking for. Even so, let's study some of the imagery in this chapter:

Dawn had begun bleeding pale colors of daylight above the trees and into the window slits.

I mean, that's okay, right?

I ate my egg first, taking little  bites to make it last longer. I ate the white part, smooth and cold, then the golden, crumbly yolk. When it was gone, I licked my fingers, savoring the yolk crumbs and salt.

Okay, that's a little odd, but it's certainly detailed...I can picture the, uh...uhh...

...I'm sorry, this is crap. The idea that Agenda 21 is well-written on any level is a bad joke, and the only reason I haven't been addressing that is because it would entail me transcribing most of the novel in order to point out all of the defects.

Where do I even start? The expository portions are dominated by stubby declarative sentences that leave little room for action or internal reflection. The dialogue is simply dull, with characters often having multiple discussions about the same thing in close proximity. Compounding this is the author's slippery grasp on voice - in particular, all of the male characters (save Jeremy) sound exactly alike, which is going to make the next few chapters very hard to follow. Most of the book is lacking in the way of description, and that's coming from someone who hates the overdescription that dominates American literature. You know how I didn't tell you anything about the location where the Social Meeting Update took place? That's because Harriet Parke didn't tell me anything about it - not where it was or how large or anything beyond the fact that a stage was present. By contrast, wait until you see how much description McSexy the Gatekeeper gets when he shows up again a little later.

And as far as the imagery? You want a picture of the sky?

It was a color that she'd forgotten, a magnificent brilliance that was only a distant childhood memory. Here was a sphere of cerulean, stretching endlessly across the breadth of the sky, from one horizon to another. Off in the distance, where the sun rested, the color shifted to reveal an unimaginable spectrum. The blue transformed into purple and then into red, with countless subtle shades between each layer. Farther down, the sky embraced the still-living earth, the blues mingling with patches of verdant green.
You know who wrote that? I did. It was in a serial called Beneath an Azure Sky, one that I abandoned partway in because it didn't seem like there was much interest in it. Come to think of it, I gave up on that serial right around the same point in the narrative as we've just reached in Agenda 21. By this point, my protagonist had twice eluded a band of murderous thugs out for her head, unearthed a secret about a powerful local lord, infiltrated the domain of a narcotrafficking cult, been drugged with a hallucinogen, and dug her way to freedom after being buried alive in a cave-in. See? Things happen in my stories.

I know that this all started because someone out there wanted to watch me subject myself to the inner world of kooky ol' Glenn Beck, but it's more than that now. It's more than Harriet Parke. Sure, she wrote a shitty novel, but everyone does that at some point. But this particular shitty novel was carefully worked on and formally published by an industry that pretends it's classier than those low-brow types in the entertainment biz even as it indulges in the exact same market-tested mania.

This is now the story of how the gatekeepers have failed us.

Next time: Ah, hell, I guess I have to go back to reading it.

No comments:

Post a Comment