April 8, 2008

Click - Ten Authors

Last fall, at the Texas Book Festival, Bart and I attended Linda Sue Park's panel. She mentioned a project she'd recently finished where some publisher or someone or other (clearly I'm really good with the details on this story) had asked her and nine other award-winning authors to each write one chapter of a book. She explained that she'd been chosen to write the first chapter and then that chapter was sent to the next author and so forth and so on until there were ten chapters (and one book) in all. The book was Click.

Obviously I wanted to read it.

Oh, is there anything more depressing than a book that you've eagerly awaited turning out to be a big fat dud?

Yes, I'm afraid it is true; this book is not worth your time.

The idea is so brilliant. You probably will have heard of at least one or two of the authors (I was familiar with three - Linda Sue Park, Nick Hornby, and Gregory Maguire) and then you'll be introduced to several more authors at the same time.

And all the proceeds for the book are going to Amnesty International. You just want to like this book. But alas, I could not.

Within a few chapters, I was realizing there is a reason most books only have one author. A book with ten authors is jumpy. It doesn't flow all that well. It sort of changes genres every single chapter. You know those books that are slow to start (Rebecca, for one) but get better as you go along? This one got worse. Every chapter just made the book more confusing and less enjoyable.

In some cases it seemed as if the author assigned to write a middle or ending chapter already had an idea of what he or she was going to write about and then they just sort of wrestled it into the already-established framework of the story.

Whew, I feel better now.

The basic story is that Maggie, a ten-year-old girl is devastated by the death of her grandfather, a famous photographer, Gee. He leaves her brother, Jason, his old camera and a set of autographed photos of famous people; to Maggie he leaves a box that contains seven smaller boxes, each with a shell inside and instructions to "Throw them all back."

And then the story jumps to Jason who, it turns out, is adopted and desperate to find his real father. And he's tempted to sell off all the signed pictures to help buy a plane ticket.

And then we switch to a girl who seems to be a mermaid.

And then a Russian prisoner.

And then a girl that Jason meets and helps out by taking her picture.

And then a girl who can make things come alive with a camera.

And everybody seems to be vaguely related to Gee (either by blood or circumstance) and they sort of try to explain it with some trippy science fiction, but it's kind of vague. And also ignored in the next chapter.

And then, yippee! We're in the future! (Too bad we don't care about the characters at all by this point, and we have basically no idea what's going on).

It's just so disjointed. This book could have been so lovely. Instead, I breathed with relief when it was finished and went to take an aspirin.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads up. I was going to check it out, but am happy to make room for other books on my list instead.

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  2. I like your last sentence.

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  3. That does sound incredibly jumpy. I wonder what the author of the first chapeter had in mind for the rest of the story?

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  4. I was kind of disappointed by Reading Lolita in Tehran. I was so excited for it, had been eying it for months, and finally got it and settled down, only to figure out the "Tehran" part is mostly obsolete (that could be an exaggeration), because most of the book is the author's commentary on books she's read that have nothing to do with Iran, women, education, etc. Oh well.

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