A lot of things bother me as I read this. I normally bail on a book like this at page 10, but I’m intrigued by this souvenir from the book-sniffing mission on Valencia. And so I plan on reading it all the way through, gathering thoughts on why it’s so wretched and how to prevent my own writing from devolving into this quality.
* Slang. Or more precisely, dated slang. Right out of the gate, first sentence, “you’ve got bats in your belfry.” Other words trapped in amber from that era: louse, scram, sporting proposition, in a real jam, in a spot, fierce (“This is fierce,” he said. The boy nodded dolefully. “I know it. They’re all fierce. The whole place is fierce.”)
* Overuse of adjectives and adverbs. Moodily plodded down, grim, rotten dirty trick, swung angrily about, wrapped in gloomy thought, eyes blazing,
* Mundane comparisions. “Eloise laughed a nasty laugh; cruel. It suggested that as a child she probably stuck pins through live butterflies,” “a room so bleak it looked like the cell of a penitent monk,” “Her eyes, for a second, were like blue water with mist rising over it.”
* Overuse of the same words, over and over. Doleful comes up a lot. There’s also this doozy: “He chuckled again, even more softly, because this chuckle was a tender chuckle, as chuckles go.”
* Just general bad writing: “The Inn of the Sighing Pines is, incredibly, more doleful than its name. Everything about it is perfectly dreadful. In the first place, it is a summer resort. In the second, it is, as its pamphlet says, ultra-refined.”
* Confusing writing during action scenes, not sure who does what to whom.
* Inexplicable details, like the fact that Brett could not have a suitcase with him as he flees town, since he goes directly from the Chin Chin club to a man on the run.
Final thought, inspired by this line: “He seemed to Brett more like someone he might read about in a book than an actual man.” This book seemed to be a practice run for a real story.