Judging the Book
When I was around twelve years of age my most influential friend at the time was reading the Anne Rice vampire books. I was an acutely troubled twelve years old and I confess a sense of awe concerning vampires. I was awed with their power - their strength, charms, and magic, but also more than that. I recognized, certainly not to the depth I do now but I was aware of their power in myth. Completely beside any debate on their existence, their existence within myth has been present since myth itself it sometimes seems. Perhaps not in their current form, but in some form. Filled with this awe and being an avid reader, I wanted to read these books about which my friend spoke so highly. I remember hoping I would get them for Christmas.
What I received was Barbara Hambley's Those Who Hunt the Night. I perceived this as my mother's way to placate me. For a long time I did not even pick up the book. My friend read it, I do not remember if it was my copy he borrowed or if he gained his own from somewhere. He more or less told me it stunk, which was the opinion I had already formed. I am not certain I had actually opened the book at this point, mind you. I also learned not long after that that my friend's idea of reading a book was to read the first few chapters and the last few. His literary opinions suddenly had a lot less weight.
I did eventually try to read it. It still seemed annoying and I stopped very shortly into it. Like many others I have my favourite authors and I believe it was a publication by one of these that caused me to turn my attention. Over the years I would occasionally pick up the book and leaf part ways through it. Still, before the first hundred pages were done, I would always put it down and have to start anew the next time. Each time I would become a little more interested. Each time the story would be just a little more gripping.
Tonight I finished it. I am a fool for not reading the thing earlier. It is not exactly a literary classic. It will never hold a place beside Dickens, Shakespeare, or Wordsworth. But it was a good read. I still have never read Anne Rice. I tried, once, to read Interview With a Vampire. I could not bear even the first ten pages. I would certainly pick this up again before Rice. I do think marketing it as young adult fiction as I have usually seen is doing it a disservice.
My mother did not read this herself, but I am betting I know the person who recommended it to her. And I am betting that person read the book from cover to cover. I am also betting that gives one better grounds to accurately judge a book than one who reads the first and last chapters. It frightens me to think of what books must really be like if using that method they seem good.
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