Friday, December 12, 2008

On Condescending Writers

Among my pet peeves are arrogant authors.

I came across one today whose elitist attitudes were on dramatic display -- a very strong condescending manner towards the rubes he satirized and a style that was less prose than it was never-ending inside jokes. (“No, I don’t understand the reference but it must be because this author is so clever and in the know.”)

The only reason I picked up this particular book was because of a recommendation by a good friend. I brought it along with me today as I had volunteered to baby-sit another friend’s art exhibit that’s running all month in a new Council Bluffs cafĂ©/gallery. I had some work to do but figured I’d finish with it long before my 5-hour shift was over. Naturally then I tossed a couple of extra books into my shoulder bag to ward off any boredom that might assail me.

For the sake of my friend, I tried to read the book. Really I did. But the author’s smug pleasure with himself for using foreign phrases, sophisticated sexual references, and just being so much more hip than the hayseeds he was making fun of finally did me in.

I had reached page 33.

How pleased I was, therefore, to break from the novel by enjoying one of those deli sandwiches offered by the cute but multi-punctured kids across the way. And even more pleased I was when I remembered that other book in my bag to fall back on, John MacArthur’s 1989 God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas.

Whew. That was close, for the only thing worse than getting stuck somewhere without a book is getting stuck somewhere with a bad book!

So be careful and do with books like what you do with can openers, batteries and tires -- always have a spare in case of emergency.