Saturday, April 24, 2010

Readability Be Damned

Back in March when my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday I went onto http://chapters.indigo.ca and into the fiction section to see what I might like.

I initially gravitated to the new Chuck Klosterman book.  His first piece of fiction.  I had read a few of his books before (collections of essays, mostly true stories, and anecdotes) and read him online from time-to-time so I added that to my wish list (it's called "Downtown Owl", and I liked it).

Then, I started looking for crime novels, heist books, and other assorted who done it types.  In the new release section was a Don Delillo book that claimed to be about a filmmaker and a U.S. Government inside-the-war room fellow.  In grade eleven I read this book "White Noise" by Don Delillo.  All I can tell you about it today is that I think it ended with the main character in a grocery store but I vaguely remember liking it.  I put his new one on my wish list as well.  It was titled "Point Omega".

It sucked.

It's not just that it was a slow moving book.  It never really got started.  It was only a hundred or so pages, but honestly it could have done with another hundred more just so that the really good story lines actually had time to develop.

In my non-expert opinion it was just poorly written, and I can't even begin to describe how much I now loathe the comma.  This is what this awful book has done to me.  I can't even look at a comma now without feeling sick to my stomach.

It began with sentences with so many commas I could barely keep track, kept with that theme for a while, continued to overuse them, and finished, finally, with a few pages of disjointed thoughts, separated, of course, by many commas, presumably to promote something I can only describe as "punctuation epilepsy".

The only advice I can give is to avoid reading this book.  That, and Don Delillo should read "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynn Truss and pay careful attention to the chapter on the comma (assuming for a minute that a hugely successful author of dozens of novels, short stories and plays can take advice from a blathering blog hack like myself).

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