Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A question of freedom

I read a book this week that had me grimacing at the male protagonist’s serious lack of hygiene. I won’t name the novel in question but can tell you it is the work of someone who’s a permanent fixture on the New York Times bestseller list – having written dozens of books which have sold in their millions.
Don’t know about any of you, but I can never leave a book unread, so I duly waded through the grime and quite enjoyed the story after a few baths had been taken – and the rats removed from the rushes. But it certainly wasn’t the best thing I’ve read by this author.

What made far more of an impression on me than the story, however, was the feeling that such a novel would surely have been unthinkable for a first-timer trying to get published. While I’m certainly not of the opinion that everyone should be religiously following trends, or simply rehashing the same character traits, what really struck me was the freedom I felt this author had been allowed to exercise in what is really quite a strict genre.

That may be an unfair assumption on my part, of course. After all, the dirt-loving characters and setting were undoubtedly unique – and while I may not be a fan of a main character who has an aversion to soap, I suppose I should concede that there may be many people who remain unfazed by such details. ;o) However, a quite look at some of the book's reviews seemed to confirm my original feeling and I was left wondering whether such plotlines are only deemed to be acceptable when they come from authors with a established following.

I’d love to know your thoughts about this…