July 4, 2011

a note of outrage to a favorite author

No, no, no, NO!  You cannot, in good conscience, end a mystery novel like that, Mr. Smith!

You mention resolution, and then fail to provide it.  You leave unexplained myriad titillating incidences:  why did the sight of Graeme in the pub make Ian feel suddenly ill?  Was Graeme following Isabel, and if so, why? Had Ian really seen Euan during his recovery?  And, whether or not he had, why did his meeting Euan in the end not affect him as his seeing Graeme had?

What about Grace's new friend? Was their romance in fact interrupted by the medium's inventions? And what about Tomasso? Was his family's business really shoes? What had his interest been in Isabel, and what was Cat's role in it? Why did he return so suddenly to Italy? And the waiter at the fish restaurant in Leith – why did he start so at Isabel's comment on honesty and kindness? Had there been a significant look between him and Tomasso, or not?

This is incorrigible, Mr. Smith. Either your talents as a writer have slipped, or you are indulging in that most inexplicable of all literary crimes: ghostwriting (which is, unfortunately, not actually in any way illegal).

When a person makes use of another's writing without asking permission or giving credit, we call it plagiarism, and regard it as intellectual theft, and rightly so. But when a person who has made a success of writing, grows lazy (or ambitious?) and employs another to do his writing for him, then sells it under his own name, he calls it ghostwriting, and regards it as a way to sell more books.

I regard that as highway robbery. Or, you could call it selling your soul. Take your pick.

A talented writer will naturally have readers. A well-liked author will have readers who want more of the same, and, seeing his name on a book, will purchase it, anticipating a good read. When an author sells his reputation for royalties, he cheats his readers, robbing both their pocketbooks and their trust.

[pause.  deep breath.] 

Now, I'm not saying Mr. Smith hired someone to write this book.  I hope he didn't.  I really hope he didn't.  I actually liked all but the last few chapters, when the mystery was cozily and unconvincingly wrapped up.  Maybe Mr. Smith just got tired of it by the end, or maybe there were just too many loose ends to wrap up, and he forgot some (or wasn't sure how to wrap them up....).  


My outrage ends.  Mr. Smith, is, after all, human.  Not to mention that he's an excellent writer, most of the time.  I don't even know how to wrap up this post, so who am I to throw darts at an established, intelligent, entertaining author just because the last few chapters of one of his books is disappointing.......?

Being able to see both sides of the coin has its disadvantages; I'd never make a good critic.  You'll excuse me now while I go open the next book in Mr. Smith's series?

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