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Jerome Parisse

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Member Since: May, 2010

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Blogs by Jerome Parisse

Early works: Coben takes us for a ride
9/14/2010 5:30:07 PM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

I feel cheated! And angry. I decided to swap genres for a change and chose a crime novel for my next read during my French holiday. I picked “Play Dead” by Harlan Coben at Heathrow (along “Serena” by Ron Rash, for which I will post a review soon), since I’ve always enjoyed Coben’s crime novels. I find them usually well written, with a good plot and a number of twists that guarantee some suspense. True, there is a bit of formula in his writing, but it works. When I opened this particular book, I was surprised to find an introduction written by Coben, which rang alarm bells. Here’s an extract of the introduction: “Please know that I haven’t read Play Dead in at least twenty years. I didn’t want to rewrite it and pass it off as a new book. I hate when authors do that. So this is, for better of worse, the exact book I wrote when I was in my early twenties…” Oh oh, I thought, I wish I had read this before buying the book. I started reading and became angry quickly. The quality isn’t there, the book is not well written, and it has obviously not been edited properly. The beginning of the book is set in Australia and Coben tries to make his Australian characters sound Australian in the dialogue. Alas, the result is pathetic and will probably anger any Australian. You have to be very naïve to think that by using the words “mate” or “no worries” in every second sentence, you sound Australian. These words (and others) are used in the wrong sense, and repeatedly, to the point of becoming senseless and annoying. This could have been fixed by asking someone from Australia to read these parts. The dialogues in general sound fake. Many similes are terrible or offending and patronising (“The well-dressed patrons attacked the food like the poor in Bangladesh”, “She peered into his eyes. They darted away from Laura’s glare like scared birds”,”He took a drag on his cigarette with enough intensity to inhale a tennis ball through a straw”). Other passages are just cliché (“She had been afraid of exposing herself to the devastating weapon of love”). Some techniques, such as flash-backs, are used in a clumsy way. And elements of the plot (such as the character who fakes his death and goes through plastic surgery to come back as almost himself) are, if not simply laughable, so easy to see through that you feel ashamed for Coben. Don’t get me wrong though, the book is not all bad. The overall plot is okay – even if typically Coben and predictable – and it’s not a bad read. But don’t read it if you’ve read anything else by Coben before, you will be disappointed.

Why am I angry? It’s not because it's an early book. Many writers get better at their craft with time, and their early works aren't as good. I’m no exception. I find this totally acceptable, this is part of a normal process. No, what really annoys me here is that this book has just been published, after many other very good ones by Coben, and that it was not rewritten, or even slightly edited by the look of it. Coben is aware of that. He says so in his introduction. Why does Coben hate it when authors rewrite their early works before publishing them? I would advise him to do so if he wants to publish others of his early manuscripts. It would benefit his readers, and him too. Coben is aware of the flaws of the novel. He states it in his introduction, “I’m hard on it, but arent’ we all hard on our early stuff? Remember that essay you wrote when you were in school, the one that you got an A-plus, the one your teacher called ‘inspired’ – and one day you’re going through your drawer and you find it and you read it and your heart sinks and you say, ‘Man, what was I thinking?’ That’s how it is with early novels sometimes.” So if Coben knows he can do better, why does he allow himself to exhibit mediocre writing, not to strive to produce the high-quality novels his readers enjoy? Isn’t he in fact looking down at us, patronizing us, treating us like children? Or is it easy money? Easy work? And what about the publisher, Orion Books? How can they allow such a book to be published by such a well-known author under their banner? Shame on them, they’re taking their readers for granted! Okay, after so much ranting and cursing, I should be more gentle with Coben and his publisher. They’ve given me precious material to use in creative writing classes. What better way to learn than to learn from errors, whether your own or someone else’s? Learn from clumsy writing, from what NOT to do? Thanks, Coben!


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More Blogs by Jerome Parisse
• Body Swap Interview and Yunnan Trip... - Thursday, March 10, 2011
• The Corrections - Wednesday, March 09, 2011
• Buried - Wednesday, March 09, 2011
• Black Swan - Monday, March 07, 2011
• Educating Rita - Sunday, February 27, 2011
• Bidrman, by Mo hayder - Sunday, February 27, 2011
• The Insomnia of Stars - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
• If I Stay, by Gayle Forman - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
• Blacklands by Belinda bauer - Wednesday, February 16, 2011
• Where is Marc Levy's respect for his readers? - Saturday, February 12, 2011
• The Wings of Leo Spencer at $10 only! - Wednesday, February 09, 2011
• Boracay, twenty years later - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Hereafter - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Gone (Mo Hayder) - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Free e-books until 6 February! - Monday, January 31, 2011
• Two Brothers - Sunday, January 30, 2011
• Miserere - Saturday, January 29, 2011
• Shanghai - Saturday, January 22, 2011
• 3 e-books for free until 6 January! - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• A Spot of Bother - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• Sarah's Key - Wednesday, January 19, 2011
• The Tree - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• Norwegian Wood - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• The American - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• Eat Pray Love - Saturday, January 08, 2011
• 50 literature ideas you really need to know, by John Sutherland - Saturday, January 08, 2011
• Aftershock - Thursday, January 06, 2011
• Room by Emma Donoghue - Tuesday, January 04, 2011
• Harry Potter and the Deahtly Hallows - Friday, December 17, 2010
• The art of happiness - Thursday, December 16, 2010
• The Scold's Bridle by Minette Walters - Wednesday, December 15, 2010
• Worst film ever? - Sunday, December 12, 2010
• Trailer for BODY SWAP - Friday, December 10, 2010
• Hong Kong Murders - Monday, December 06, 2010
• The kids are all right - Monday, December 06, 2010
• The Killing Fields - My Father's Guests - Tuesday, November 30, 2010
• Interview on Body Swap and publishing on Kindle by David Wisehart - Friday, November 26, 2010
• The Animated Version of the Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival - Monday, November 22, 2010
• What is it about Japan? - Saturday, November 13, 2010
• The Ice House - Sunday, November 07, 2010
• Body Swap - Wednesday, November 03, 2010
• Taipei: the city that reads... - Tuesday, November 02, 2010
• Free royalty-free music - Monday, October 25, 2010
• Trailer for THE WINGS OF LEO SPENCER - Saturday, October 23, 2010
• Reference Material for Learning Chinese - Saturday, October 23, 2010
• The world’s first text message adventure romance with the other side! - Wednesday, October 20, 2010
• Grease.... or a failed English test - Monday, October 18, 2010
• The jungle temples of Angkor, Cambodia - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
• A little lower than the angels - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
• 61 Hours by Lee Child - Friday, October 01, 2010
• The obsessions of Amelie Nothomb - Monday, September 27, 2010
• Kaohsiung, the friendly city - Sunday, September 26, 2010
• A concise history of Hong Kong - Tuesday, September 21, 2010
• Nicaragua, twenty years on... - Monday, September 20, 2010
• We all make mistakes, don't we? - Saturday, September 18, 2010
• Serena - Thursday, September 16, 2010
•  Early works: Coben takes us for a ride - Tuesday, September 14, 2010  
• Tokyo / The Devil of Nanking - Sunday, September 12, 2010
• Young and bold - Saturday, September 11, 2010
• Gay marriage anyone? - Thursday, September 09, 2010
• iPad anyone? - Wednesday, September 08, 2010
• Online book promotion: The French strike again! - Tuesday, September 07, 2010
• Blood Canticle - Monday, September 06, 2010
• More Vampires! Breaking Dawn and The Passage - Sunday, September 05, 2010
• Blackwood Farm - Wednesday, August 04, 2010
• Animal Kingdom - Wednesday, August 04, 2010
• Breath - Sunday, August 01, 2010
• The Ghost Writer - Date Night - Dragons et al - Thursday, July 29, 2010
• According to Kit - Friday, July 23, 2010
• Playtime - Wednesday, July 21, 2010
• It's all about words... - Monday, July 19, 2010
• Deed to Death - Friday, July 16, 2010
• The Art of Flying - Thursday, July 15, 2010
• A Gate a the Stairs - Wednesday, July 14, 2010
• Twitter: the art of (non) conversation? - Sunday, July 11, 2010
• City of Thieves - Saturday, July 10, 2010
• Gravity and Drift - Thursday, July 08, 2010
• Who says nobody is reading any more? - Wednesday, July 07, 2010
• Watercolours: the travelling artist - Wednesday, July 07, 2010
• Release of "My Sister's Choice" - Monday, July 05, 2010
• Eclipse: the movie vs the book - Saturday, July 03, 2010
• Three chocolate croissants, please! - Wednesday, June 30, 2010
• Paranormal romance: The list goes on - Sunday, June 27, 2010
• Sex and the City - Friday, June 25, 2010
• A great launch - Thursday, June 24, 2010
• Jackhammering, sniffles and gum chewing - Tuesday, June 22, 2010
• New Moon, Stephenie Meyer again - Monday, June 21, 2010
• Reilly: The case for literary fiction - Wednesday, June 16, 2010
• TWILIGHT - Tuesday, June 15, 2010
• Bedroom Farce - Wednesday, June 09, 2010
• Writing for the deaf and the hearing - Monday, June 07, 2010
• A kiss or three - Sunday, June 06, 2010
• Is - Wednesday, June 02, 2010
• A prolific writer - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
• Angels are the new vampires! - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
• The ebook epiphany! - Sunday, May 30, 2010
• Theatre Value Meal: Small, Medium, or Large? - Saturday, May 29, 2010
• Of the importance of detail - Friday, May 28, 2010
• Literary fiction or gothic horror? - Friday, May 28, 2010


Definitions of some Mathematical Terms for 11-18 year-olds (Paperback) by Brainard Braimah

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