This is a Texty Tuesdays post, looking at different types of text from the printed word to blogs to things you scribble when you’re bored.
I’m used to reading books which are chosen from a reading list. This means they are classics, or are on the list for being literary and, although invariably enjoyable, are slow-moving and convoluted.
Which is why reading The Hunger Games was somewhat of a shock to the system for me. Yes, several times a chapter I wanted to take a red pen and underline poorly phrased sentences, and yes, it didn’t once reread a paragraph to take in its full beauty, but I couldn’t put the book down. Any spare minute, I would pick it up. I read it while walking. When I wasn’t reading it, I became unsociable. Needless to say, it took me just over a day to finish it.
It took me back to a time before reading lists and deadlines, to when I was a teenager and read fantasy books. The Wind on Fire. Lirael and Sabrael. You name it, I read it. I’m slightly proud that I read the first Harry Potter before it became a phenomenon.
They’re page-turners. They’re action-packed, un-put-down-able, thrilling. But they’re not well-written.
They’re exactly the kind of novels Henry James hated for brain-washing people into romanticising everything.
They sacrifice form in favour of content.
Which got me thinking; is there ever a good mix of form and content?
It seems that fiction books which are driven by their content have little to show in terms of form, whereas books heralded for their form have very little action.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is the only book I can think of which ticks both form and content boxes.
It seems to me that being a page-turner and being well written is a feat for most writers.
What do you think? Can a book be well written and gripping simultaneously?