Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Deja Vu

I had a weird reading experience this weekend. There's a book that's been frequently recommended to me as a good example of that kind of book, but I haven't read it. I put it on hold at the library, and it finally came in. I started reading it and immediately had a massive case of deja vu. It was all so familiar to me, like I'd read it before. I couldn't really predict what would happen next, but I had a mental image of each scene just before it happened. But I was still pretty sure I hadn't read this book.

There was a chance that it was simply the epitome of a kind of book that has become cliche, so I felt like I'd read it before even though I hadn't. It was one of the earlier and supposedly better examples of this kind of book, but because I came to it very late after reading all the copycats, the original felt overly familiar. It's like a friend I had who thought the movie Casablanca was too cliched for her to enjoy. It didn't matter that all those great lines that have been repeated, quoted or parodied over the years originated in that film. Because she'd seen all those quotes and parodies first, by the time she saw the original, she thought it was just a collection of cliched quotations. And this book did have the kinds of scenes that tend to start that kind of book. Except that there were some pretty unique details that were also oddly familiar.

I skipped ahead into the book, and the familiarity ended. All I can think is that I may have tried to read this book before but didn't get into it, or maybe it was excerpted in the back of another book, or possibly there was an excerpt in one of those promo sampler books they hand out at conventions, so I'd read the first few chapters but not the whole book. I ended up giving up on the book and returning it to the library on the due date because that deja vu was so distracting that I didn't get into the story, and if I'd read that much before without reading the whole book, obviously it didn't resonate with me then, either. I think it's just a kind of book that doesn't work for me, no matter how good an example of that kind of book it is. It's one of those things like beer to me. I say I don't like beer, and people immediately say I have to try whatever kind of beer that isn't like all that other beer. But I've sampled a number of different kinds, and to me it's still beer. With this kind of book, I say I don't really like it, then people keep suggesting books/authors that I will like, and it still comes down to the fact that it's still this kind of book. There are too many books to waste time forcing myself to keep trying something that's not for me.

Now I'm reading my way through the Nebula ballot. I'm finding that the "fantasy" stories/books/novellas tend to be fun even if they're thought -provoking, but the "science fiction" ones are preachy "we're killing the planet" kinds of things. I'm still liking the YA far more than the adult. I do wish I had the talent to write short stories because that's such a lovely art form and I'm in awe of the people who do it well.

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