Oh what fun it is to talk of our Literary Pet Peeves! (set to the tune of Jingle Bells, of course...it is December after all.) This weekend is sure to be full of more great book talk--go to The Blue Bookcase to see what everyone else is saying, or better yet, join the conversation!
And yes, the punctuation/spelling/grammatical errors induce immediate eye rolling. But there is something else that, without fail, has me issuing dramatic groans and occasional shouts of disgust. I don't know what to call it other than The Intrusive Author.
By saying The Intrusive Author, I'm not necessarily meaning those few times when the author interjects a thought into the narrative. It is possible for that to be well done and enjoyable. Nor am I talking about the narrator of the book, who is often a different personality than the author himself. I'm talking about the times when the author's voice itself is so loud that it interrupts the story at hand. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate what I mean is to give a few examples (links go to my reviews).
My most recent experience with this was with The Alchemist. Of course, this was an allegory, so the author's voice is naturally going to be less disguised. But did he really have to repeat his main point, word for word, quite so many times? Even in allegory, one ought to be able to show the main point instead of telling it.
Before The Alchemist was Thirteen Reasons Why. I felt that I never really heard the main character in the book, or any of the characters for that matter, only the author being all deep and dramatic. The whole thing felt contrived, like the author's smug mug was in front of me the whole time.
Also this year was Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road. Not a good introduction to Chabon (even the girl in my book club who chose the book based on her love for him started the conversation by apologizing.) If you can read the first chapter of this book and not find yourself wanting to have a discussion with the author about thesaurus abuse, then I'm impressed.
When I read a book I want to get a little lost: in the language, the story, the characters, the setting, the ideas. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, adult, or junior, I want to think about the topic of the book. If the author himself (herself) prevents that, then why on earth am I reading the book?