Yesterday I walked into town with my wife and two children. We had a few things to do, but the main purpose was a leisurely stroll in the sunshine. One point of going, was to swap over a revision book that we’d bought for my eldest daughter, who is studying to take the 11+. So as a family, we all wandered into Waterstones book store, my wife checking for the book we wanted to swap, while I kept an eye on the kids in the children’s section. When my wife came back, I crept off to the fantasy and sci-fi section (which they’d moved by the way………..I hate that. And yes I know, I’m a grumpy old man.)
Anyhow, after browsing through the shelves, just to see if anything’s been added to my favourite series of books since the last time I visited, I turned around and looked at the new arrivals. To my shock and horror, there, sitting on the table before me, was a newly published hardback by one of my favourite authors, whose series of books I have all of. Immediately I snatched it up, even though there was nobody else around……….how silly. I gazed lovingly at it, knowing full well that I had to buy it there and then, and that all of the editing on my own book that I’d been working so hard on in the last few weeks, was about to get interrupted…………..in a good way of course.
With nobody else about, and my wife and kids safely ensconced in the children’s section, I delicately opened the front cover, eager to read the blurb and get an insight into the magical adventure that awaited me. What I found totally confused and stunned me. So much so, that I had to read the blurb FOUR times. After having done so, I stood still, totally gobsmacked. The very short, and utterly incomprehensible waffle (as that can be the only description of what I’d read) was anything but what I’d expected.
As I stood with just myself for company, the only one in that particular section, a battle played out inside of me. I’d really loved ALL of the other books by this particular author (a very successful fantasy author) and have read and reread them all. And with the exception of the last one, which I think was a modern day reincarnation of the characters involved in the series, I’ve adored each and every one of them. They stand proudly on the bookshelves that adorn my house. But for total and utter gibberish to appear in this way, prominently on the inside front cover of this book, just made me…….put it down. Now I know nobody else was there, but it did appear to be the only copy in the shop at the time, and had I liked what I’d read, then a score of Roman gladiators wouldn’t have wrestled it away from me. But for me to put it down………well, what does that say about the book, and more importantly, whoever was in charge of composing and writing the blurb?
Anyhow, I wandered back over to my wife and kids, more than a little disappointed. My wife creased her face at me on arrival, the kids still hunting around for tomes to spend their pocket money on. I explained what had happened, and a trifle unsure of whether it was just me or not, I asked her to go and have a look, while I looked after the kids. I should point out that she’s read all of the books by this particular author, but not for quite some time. I watched as she weaved her way around tables of books, before arriving at the right place. I watched as she opened up the book and studied the blurb within. She must have read it a few times as I watched from a distance. Eventually she carefully placed it back on the table, and sauntered back over to where I was standing.
“Well?” I asked impatiently. Her view was much the same as mine, if not more scathing. Now the reason that she read it is important for two reasons. One……..it means that I’m not either losing the plot, or my sanity. Two, I regard my wife as the Queen of grammar and punctuation. Her knowledge and editorial skills are outstanding, and I value her opinion more than my own in something like this. So there it was. No book for me, despite my raised hopes. As we walked out of the store, having exchanged the study book, and bought a book for my eldest as well, I consoled myself with the fact that I hadn’t parted with any money for the mightily priced hardback. But as someone who has just finished writing his second novel, I couldn’t help but think what the author or the publisher was thinking. For me to put it down is just downright unbelievable. And if I’ve done it, then how many more people will as well? Even now I can’t fathom it.
After writing all of this, I decided to have a quick look on Amazon at the book. It doesn’t show or mention anything that I recall from the blurb, but what I find quite amusing, is that the book isn’t released until this Thursday, the 22nd. Three days from now. It explains why there was only one book, but not why it was even for sale at all……….and it was for sale.
How strange. Perhaps I will end up buying it eventually, but not for now.