Sunday, June 4, 2017

Layers of writing and plot

Sometimes I read a book and the layers of writing are gorgeous, inspirational, unbelievable and awe-striking. I taste. I see. I hear. I feel. I am in every way, through every moment of the book, enthralled and engaged with the words slipping through my mind.

I so want to love it because the writing is almost hypnotic. But, I just can't. The plot meanders. The characters shift from one foot to the next, but never step forward. All the beautiful words, creating all the engaging images, only add up to a total immersion in a world that's just, well, not that interesting.

American Gods ended up being one of these books for me. I followed the main character, Shadow, through a long and winding trip across an entire book of well-written passages and perfect descriptions. After all that shared experience, we never really got anywhere. At least not anywhere worth going.

Neil Gamon is a genius. This book is beloved by many. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Neil Gamon, but that's why I'm so disappointed. Shadow is a multi-layered, deep and likeable character who I want to spend time with. Unfortunately, most of the other characters, and there are so many it's difficult to keep track of them, were mere moments on the page. They faded. I got them confused. And, the road trip that lasted forever, was essentially beside the point.

All through the book Shadow traveled, but he never really got anywhere. I hung in because of Shadow's depth and because the writing itself was so delicious. In the end, the book left me stranded and confused, unfulfilled and uninspired.

Writing is critical, but plot, as it turns out, matters just as much.

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