Literary Blog Hop-My Literary Pet Peeve

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Literary Blog Hop
Welcome Literary Blog Hoppers!  The Literary Blog Hop is hosted each week by the fine folks at The Blue Bookcase.  This week's question is...

What is one of your literary pet peeves?  Is there something that writers do that really sets your teeth on edge?  Be specific, and give examples if you can.

This was an easy question for me, because there is only one thing that writers do that really makes me crazy-that is, other than bad writing.  But assuming for the moment that we are only talking about authors with the actual capacity to write well, I hate hate triple hate stream-of-consciousness narrative.  Not because it is difficult to understand (though sometimes it is)-I enjoy the mental gymnastics.  But because most of the time it comes off as vainglorious, narcissistic craziness!

Well, let me soften that a bit.  There are novels that use stream-of-consciousness as ONE of the techniques in the narrative structure, such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's  Nest and Wide Sargasso Sea.  What really frosts my buns is being subjected to the rambling thoughts of character's (read: author's) inner monologue, as though every single thought that enters their head is a pearl to be thrown before the swine.

The most famous example of this is, of course, my old friend James Joyce.  I have heard all the arguments for why he is in the cannon, and I don't understand or buy any of them.  I have never read Ulysses, but I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in high school, and remember wondering at the time why our teacher wanted us to read something that sounded like it had been written by a person at the end of an all-day bender.  Blech!

I also gave the old college try to Fight Club.  Apparently stream-of-consciousness makes an excellent movie and a crappy book.  (Yes, I know, Fight Club is beloved by many.  Yes, I know it makes a profound statement about what it means to be a man in a post-feminist world.  Before you write me a nasty-gram about the genius of that book, please remember I said I LIKED the movie version.  I just don't want to read it!)

My experience with Joyce is why I will never read Gravity's Rainbow, On the Road, or Naked Lunch.  I'm sure that I will miss out on some wonderfully wise commentary on the human condition-and I'm equally sure I don't care!


  1. Stream of consciousness can occasionally work for me, but it is very rare.

  2. What I really hate is young authors who use stream of consciousness because they think it's edgy or cool to write that way rather than it actually being productive to their particular narrative. some people make stream of consciousness work, more people don't

  3. Kayleigh, I know exactly what you mean! One of the other bloggers mentioned some literary technique as being all style with no substance-that's exactly how I feel about it.

  4. Your response is interesting, because I hadn't really thought that stream of consciousness bothers readers too much. It doesn't seem to bother me, but I see your point. However I was a fan of Fight Club and other Paluhniuk books, but if you don't like stream of consciousness, you better stay away.

  5. That's interesting that you mentioned Cuckoo's Nest as I would not have thought of that as stream-of-consciousness. I think James Joyce is one scary challenge :D

  6. Really, the only part of Cuckoo's Nest that is SOC is the Indian's part after what's his name gets lobotmized (clearly, remembering character names are not my forte!). But that was kind of my point-it was enough to be interesting and fit the context, but it wasn't the whole book.

  7. Hello, I stopped by your lovely blog today. For me, repetition of words (little was overused in one) and changes of POV where you don't have a clue who is thinking what cause me to put a book down. I


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