Monday, January 3, 2011

In 2011 Our Books Shall Resolve To . . .

Have you broken your New Year’s resolution yet? Me too. Wanna focus on someone else’s instead? Yep, I’m with you again. So, I present to you, the New Year’s resolutions I would make for the book industry for the upcoming year, in the form of tropes, themes, and trends I think we’ve exhausted in the last few years and that it’s maybe time we start steering clear of. This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed books about these very things when I’ve seen them in the past as recently as 2010, but perhaps they’ve been done well (and thoroughly) enough that we can start barking up another tree?

I’m sure for each of these “don’ts” at least one writer will come along and prove it a breathtakingly, arrestingly original do, proving yet again that in the world of great prose rules are made to be broken and there’s always room in any niche for one more if that one happens to be brilliantly executed. I look forward to it. In the name of a good read, after all, I’m happy even to be proven wrong.

In the meantime . . .

The trends we may have cashed:

Novels about how soul-less the uber rich are. Since reading The Great Gatsby in high school we’ve all grown up to have at least one perfectly kind, normal-ish, well-adjusted rich friend. The jig is up.

Stories narrated by dead characters. Yes, this is a clever device, but only if you’re the first one to employ it in ten years.

Novels about the modern art world. These can be fascinating and enlightening for art novices, but after three fantastic novels on the subject in 2010 (from Michael Cunningham, Steve Martin, and Jim Carroll), we may need a one-year hiatus.

Any memoir about a misspent youth or addiction struggles. This one speaks for itself, right?

Novels with supernaturally wise/shrewd/crafty child protagonists. Kids are great. They’re funny. They’re candid. They always have super fun games to play. They are not, however, supernaturally wise.

Tell-all political books serving mainly to defend one’s career or serve to establish a platform in a coming election. Who would do such a thing? (Hint: it rhymes with Air-a Laylan.)

Novels set in Brooklyn in which the borough becomes a character. Yes, Brooklyn is a vibrant place rife with artistic capital, but I fear it may be cashed as an aggressively central setting. Perhaps poor Queens or the Bronx are due a turn?

1 comment:

  1. OMG, yes to all of these. Adding a few more:

    1) Please, god, hold off on a few more biographies of Lincoln, the Adams, and the War of 1812. I'm sure there's much to say about these people, but take a break and write about something else for a change. Where is the great book on Cuban history? Or Icelandic history?

    2) No more vampires. Or if you must, can they be as snarky and self-aware as the bloodless brooders on "True Blood"?

    3) More heroines we can root for. What I want, more than female authors, is leading female characters that pass the Bechdel test and have more to offer than a pretty face. Lizbeth Salander, Katniss Everdeen...more of these, please.