Wednesday, March 02, 2011

More On Trust

Ha!  Moron Trust.  Like a bank for dolts.

Anyway, dorky jokes aside, I've been thinking about a reader's trust lately.  I finished Troubled Waters, by Sharon Shinn, recently.  I love Sharon Shinn--if there was a writer I could be, it would be her.  The title is really pretty lame, and I was a little worried, but I started reading, and I just bobbed along in the book.  It was like one of those inner tube rivers around the edge of a water park--such a slow, lovely experience.

And it was slow.  It's not an action-oriented book; it's about a girl slowly learning more about herself, her heritage, the world she lives in. Zoe finds out personal secrets, family secrets, national secrets, but mostly she figures out where to live, how to manage sudden poverty, sudden wealth, friends, family, and enemies. 

I kept reading through long stretches of nothing happening, not only because I enjoyed the experience, but because I trust Sharon Shinn, not just to end the story well, but to tell it well.  I have faith in her digressions, not just that they're relevant, but that they'll be satisfying.  I can ignore the writing in favor of the story.  I like to think of this as something to aspire to--not that the writing isn't good, but that it's not invasive, either in a  positive or a negative way.  Good acting is also like this; if you can't ignore an actor acting, it's probably a bad thing.  If it's great acting, you probably won't notice it unless you purposefully turn your attention to it.

This really came to the front of my mind when I started Brom's The Child Thief the other day.  This is a re-interpretation of Peter Pan--think about it, pirates, monsters, children living in the woods without adult protection.  Sounds more like Lord of the Flies than Walt Disney, doesn't it?  It is also a meandering book, though it's going for a very different vibe--more creepy, Tim Burton.  But there's an element of atmosphere, and a certain amount of description, and a lot of emotions as characters struggle with discoveries that change their understanding of the world.

It was much harder for me to read.  Now that I'm into it, it's working out all right, but I definitely noticed myself feeling hesitant at the beginning.  I would notice a phrase and thing, "Isn't that kind of a cliche?"  I would read a description of something and think, "Is that really how this would go?"  A city street, a scene of abuse, a monster attack--I find myself noticing the question of whether the story is authentic and well-written.

Now, part of the problem is that sometimes the answer is no.  There are definitely spots where I'm seeing inconsistencies that look like sloppy characterization rather than human contradiction.  But not a lot of them--Peter and Nick and the other characters are dirty and frightened and real.  Enough, though, that I can't lay aside my own judgment completely and let the story carry me away.

Trust is the basis of any relationship.  Sharon Shinn and I are like that.  But I'm just getting to know this Brom fellow--we'll see how it turns up.

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