Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Grisham

I watched the very informative interview with John Grisham on Charlie Rose last night and I want to make a few comments. You may not know that he graduated from Mississippi State University six years after I did. Although I had already moved to Texas by the time Mr. Grisham was making a name for himself at my old alma mater, I have followed his career at a distance. He went on to earn a law degree at Ole Miss, where he still spends much of his time, and then he practiced law for a while in Southaven, MS, where he had gone to high school. Back in the Sixties, I knew Southaven as the Mississippi town where Elvis kept his horses just south of Whitehaven. Southaven was a small town back then. Now it's just South Memphis, MS.

The point of this story, though, does not concern Memphis, horses, or Elvis. It's about writing and publishing quality books, and Mr. Grisham had plenty to say about the subject. He said there are two parts of the business that he does not particularly enjoy; however, he did emphasize that at least one of them is quite brief in duration. He does not enjoy creating the complete outline of a story. Just as Danielle Steele said to Larry King a while back, it usually takes about a year to work up a complete outline. The actual composition of the book usually takes less time than the outline. The second thing he said he does not enjoy is the editing and proofreading stage, a chore that is thankfully brief. To paraphrase one of the most successful authors in American history, After you have read through the manuscript five times, you are quite tired of it, but then that part is over and you can go on to parts of the work you enjoy.

Five times, authors! Five times. Is that too much to ask of you before you put your carefully composed (but not carefully re-read, proofread, edited, proofread, and read again) book out there for the public to closely associate with your name, at least until Amazon goes out of business?

Charlie Rose asked John Grisham about his opinion of Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code. The two of them discussed how Brown has had to deal with hordes of angry Catholics and other issues, but I mention Brown and his book for quite another reason. Many of you may be wondering why my posts on this site have been sparse lately. The short answer is that not only have I been devoting a little time to some other issues, but I am about two-thirds of the way through Amy Lane's Bound, the 479-page, third installment in her Little Goddess series. You can read my review here soon, and unless the storyline turns south in the final quarter, I do not expect the review to be difficult to write. I shall not say that The Da Vinci Code is a better book. Bound is superior in compositional style. I found Dan Brown's writing style or storytelling ability to be nothing special. Yes, I did enjoy the originality of Dan Brown's earth-shattering concept, but Amy Lane can make me care about flawed characters. I am a big fan of the Robert Rimmer books about relationships, as well as Anne Rice's complex tales of vampires and The Mayfair Witches, and Amy Lane has created a similarly large cadre of lovable, but unlikely, characters with her Little Goddess books. Please don't make me eat these prematurely printed words, Amy, but in the areas of character development and writing style at least, Bound is a superior read to the multi-platinum The Da Vinci Code.

There is only one problem with all three of Amy Lane's Little Goddess books. She has not completed the shorter of John Grisham's two stated chores. Amy is far from the only iUniverse author guilty of this slacker modus operandi. I know without reading them all that there are tons of these out there for sale at Amazon, seemingly forever, and these flawed books will sit on their virtual shelves, blackening the name of POD books for all future readers. I am picking on Amy here simply because she is at the zenith of this problematic issue. Ms. Lane is a poor schoolteacher, creating her books all by herself, while Mr. Brown is stinking rich with a major publisher at his back, but that does not stop me from saying that Bound is more fun to read than The Da Vinci Code. If I give Bound five stars at Amazon, it will have been because that last quarter was so stunning that I had felt compelled to overlook Ms. Lane's rush to publication. She already has four stars. That part's easy.

3 comments:

Amy Lane said...

*grin* Well, I'm glad some part it was easy!!! And now I'm really hoping that last 1/4 was pretty special!

Emily Veinglory said...

Hey there. Any idea what is happening with iU and Amazon? Looks nasty? All the iU lsiting are linking only to third party sellers.

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