From his July 25, 2012 piece in the Washington Post:
…I hate books all the time. Loathe them, even. I mostly write about books I love, but those books have beaten the odds. I throw books across the room. I throw them down the stairs. I throw them in the trash, lest they fasten themselves to some other human and drain away even more irreplaceable hours from humanity’s collective finite total.
As far as I can tell what happens when a reader loves a book isn’t actually a wondrous explosion of literary greatness, an inevitable consequence of that book’s inherent value, it’s a complicated combination of all sorts of circumstances: like who the reader is, where they are in their lives, what else they’ve read, what mood they’re in at the exact moment when they pick up the book, whether they’re drunk or sober, what sorts of bullshit they will or won’t put up with (and all novels contain a certain amount of bullshit), whether the author photo looks like their ex-girl/boyfriend, etc. etc.
I’ll invest chance observations and glib generalizations with a certain profundity I might not otherwise grant them. Like this one: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I have often maintained that this is utter bullshit, and I’m convinced that its bullshittiness would be widely recognized if it did not have the rest of Anna Karenina attached to it. But it does, and people give those lines the benefit of the doubt. Because, you know, Tolstoy.
…would it kill the author to have given this book more than a limp, damp string for a plot? Yes: I understand your position, which is that life is just like that. That’s the world we live in. One damn thing after another. But a) it’s not, and b) so what?
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.