A Haven for Vee

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Warning: The following may contain material that you may consider inappropriate.

The book hereafter described as TTTW is the one you see lying against the pillow in yesterday's photo. (Yes, I am purposely being vague. You may have to click on the picture to see it more clearly.) The author is A.N. (Yes, I've already explained that I am being vague...on purpose...I want no Google searches to land here.)

TTTW...I adored it and I LOATHED it. You, no doubt, have all heard of the "willing suspension of disbelief." The willing suspension of disbelief is more pyschological than anything and simply means that in order to enjoy much of literature or to appreciate movies like Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, one must set aside the normal, rational objections one would ordinarily have. Watching Psycho in a darkened theater is likely to set the emotions on edge as one "gets into" the story even knowing that it isn't real, that nothing seen before you has actually happened. (The most recent thriller that I've seen is Secret Window...substitute one that works best for you.)

So, yes, to enjoy TTTW, one must employ a willing suspension of disbelief, which was not my problem.

Have you also heard of the willing suspension of BELIEF? It is a phrase that C.S. Lewis coined to explain what Christians/Believers must often do in order to appreciate the arts. He explained that as a professor of English Literature (his specialty was medieval literature), it would be impossible for him to enjoy some literature if he were analyzing it through the eyes of belief or faith. Lewis specifically mentioned Rabelais who was a Franciscan monk living during the French Renaissance. Rabelais's stories of Gargantua are filled with the most bawdy jokes imaginable. (I can't stand them, but Lewis could enjoy the humor.)

So what does that have to do with TTTW? I'll tell you! This story began and ended as a love story of the highest order, which is exactly what I want when reading a love story. Somewhere along the way, after I was completely hooked, the "language" began in earnest. It appalls me that the description of intimacy descended to the level of four-letter words for body parts. I don't want words rhyming with bunt, slit, shock, truck, etc., to be a part of the story between two people whom I have grown to care about. PUHLEESE, is NOTHING sacred anymore? Ever? I don't want to read graphic descriptions of sex. I don't want to be taken to anyone's bedroom...ever...well, maybe not ever, but you know what I mean, right?

Did it add to the story in ANY way? NO. So why does the author do it? Either because she thinks that that is the way that people think about sex or because she thought it would sell books. Would her novel stand without the language. Absolutely. So, instead of selling books, perhaps she's actually causing people to say, as I did, "Sorry, that book I recommended to you turned out to be a whole lot of trash." This is a shame because, otherwise, this first novel by A.N. is well crafted and beautiful in many ways. Nevertheless, I won't be reading her second.

So, in the end, I was unable to willingly suspend my belief. Sigh.

(And, yes, I realize that I may just have sold a number of books for A.N. Double sigh.)


  1. I'm on my way out for the day but I didn't want to miss "the rant". Vee, I agree with you. WHY do writers have to employ such vulgar language? My mother has always said that use of it is because they aren't intelligent enough to think of other words. What a shame for a first time author to think it necessary. I haven't read the book and I will not. I'm a pretty tolerant person but some things make me squeemish; words that need rhyming is one of them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It's one of the things I love about blogging. ~Kathy

  2. Morning, Vee, We are about to head out but I am enjoying a cup of Hazelnut Belgian Cafe Coffee and your blog! Both hit the spot this morning

    Well, can you recommend another book, one that won't insult my intelligence or cause me to blush?

    Another beef I have besides the ones you mentioned are sequels. A lot of authors are getting into sequels these days and they don't hold my attention as the first work which tends to be more well crafted.

    Better luck in the book department next time! Have a great day.

  3. I'm with you on this Vee. I can tolerate a certain amount of profane language but I draw the line at nasty, nasty words. I'm very well aware also that in writing our blogs we must be careful in the wording or any amount of naughty people will be searching.

    Imagine my problem. My blog title include the words "farmer's wife".

    As for suspending belief and suspending disbelief, this is why I have a difficult time reading fiction. The DaVinci Code did it for me. There were so many plot flaws and just plain dumb stuff that I was searching for the author's phone number so that I could call and argue with him.

    I don't know if an author thinks he/she is being hip or what but it's just trashy.

  4. I have had the same thing happen, even with books that have been recommended by other Christians!

  5. I love the concept of time travel, and I generally like almost anything, books or movies, that incorporates it. I like it best when they define their own rules for what and how it's possible.
    In that regard, I think the author did a pretty good job. It had to have been a staggering feat to keep the guy and his many time-traveling selves straight.

    But I hated the story. I agree with your criticisms of it. And overall, it just had such a depressing feel to it. His life seemed futile, and while we all feel our lives don't seem to be much under our own control, the complete lack of his being able to control anything, just made it seem pointless and tragic.

    For me, time travel is exciting because it's like a do-over. To go back and change. But his having no control over any of it, and hopping around in time wanting to be with someone he loved, sometimes ended up feeling more like a contrived plot device of separation of love, than time travel.

  6. I, for one, will heed your advice. I would like for my sensibilities and grace to remain intact, so I will leave A.N. for someone else! I really do empathize and so often feel as if I have been duped when I make it a good portion into a movie or book, only to have it slide down the "icky" slope of slime. Thanks for the advance warning. And (by the way) I am reciprocating the blogroll link. You are now on my blogroll, too!

    Charm & Grace Blog

  7. I agree!! There is no need for all the bad language. Books and movies!!
    I'm trying to get caught up on blog reading - it doesn't take long to get behind and takes so long to get caught up again.

  8. Well thanks for your honest review. I saw the book all over...and had no idea what it was all about...but now I'll pass on it!

    I always wonder why good books and good movies have to be spoiled by bad language...or one or two uncomfortable scenes!

  9. You know, I'm very tolerant when it comes to language...except for one certain guy at work who just drives me nuts...but I digress....
    When it comes to reading I believe the author does have to put a bit of realism in. If it's about some street tough cop who swears alot, then I have no problem with it. If it's about the little old lady on the corner who lived a rough life and lets an expletive slip once in awhile, then I sure will believe it. It's all about making it believable. BUT...when it comes to describing the most perfect act of love that two people can share and lowering it to some two bit, low life, act that happens in the back alleys of neighborhoods that I don't want to be seen in....then it's just wrong! In other words...I agree with you wholeheartedly! LOL! Keep it real people and by doing so you can keep it clean! Whew! Thanks for letting me rant on your blog Vee! : )

  10. I'm not a prude...as I know you are not ...but this is a big bug bear of mine as well. They all seem to think they need vulgar, crude language to sell books, movies...and humour...yes, even the "stand ups" have sunk to the lowest of the low now... who needs it? They all think they need shock and awe, because the bulk of the population has become so immune to over the top, larger than life...wilder than wild..bloodier than bloody.. more cruel than cruel... well you get the drift. Red Skelton and some of the "old" guys ...and women.. Phyllis Diller springs to mind... were very funny to me ... they never swore...but had honest, silly humour and were always good for a laugh. Many a great book ..love stories and all..have been written with nary a crude word included....sigh.... some of the old stuff is the best stuff as far as I am concerned.

    Not that I buy many books either...but for sure I won't bother now..... can't waste my time with trash. Time and decent minutes in every day are precious....I guard it carefully and jealously.....

  11. I came over here from your comments on my blog about tea time treats. And I have to agree with you about language in books. I've not read the one you mention but there are too many others the same. Rather than remember the story I'm left with sordid thoughts that are not edifying in the least.

    As Paul said, "whatsoever things are lovely, excellent, of good repute...etc. think on these things."


  12. Well, gosh, Vee...now I'm embarrassed...I think I sang this book's praises to you at some point. I read it several years ago and don't really remember the shocking language...just the intriguing story about time travel. Hmmm...I've been known to drop the f-bomb here and there, so maybe the language just didn't phase me as much...or maybe I'm just not that imaginative and adept at expressing myself! I'm so sorry that you had such a negative experience with this book. I think I'll keep my book recommendations to myself from now on!

  13. Hi Vee
    I probably wouldn't enjoy that book that much either, not that I haven't enjoyed a few authors whose works have had an off color word, or two, in their text. I'm not a prude, but I don't use profanity in my day to day, so it makes me uncomfortable when it's used in excess anywhere.

  14. Good to know, Vee. I wouldn't like it at all.

    Thank you!!

    Happy weekend!


  15. I picked up the book from the library on somebody in bloglands recommend. I sincerely don't know who. I too had a problem with the language. I would just skim over hunks of stuff...kind of like fast forwarding through movies. I think it is ridiculous to put all that graphic stuff in there. Don’t these writers know, we skip have the plot to avoid the garbage. I ended up getting bored 1/2 way through, and returned the book and picked up some good old Karen Kingsbury. That woman makes me weep. Anyways I love your rant, and now I do wish I knew the end of the story hehehe. What happened after they got married…you could email me :0)

  16. Thank you all for reading my rant. I'm not sure that I was as clear as I had hoped to be because now I've gone and made folks feel embarrassed by their reading choices. Not my intent! I have read a lot of "stuff." One must to have a degree in English literature, but what bothered me was exactly what Jan said in her comment...to debase marriage by describing it in those terms was what bothered me. The author can NOT have it both ways, in my opinion. She can't portray the marriage as all that is good about this remarkable relationship on the one hand while allowing the husband/protaganist to discuss it in such raunchy terms. I'm all about elevating the language so that the majority of people can enjoy the story. I also agree that it's important for authors to "keep it real." What A.N. did with her story had nothing to do with "keeping it real."

    C.C., it wasn't you! I've been watching this book climb the best seller lists for a long while and was intrigued by it. Besides, there was sooooo much about the book that I loved...truly! That's exactly why I am so frustrated by the unnecessary language.

  17. I agree Vee. I love Jan Karon for just that reason, if I find my 12 year old reading I am not concerned! I usually just stick to kids books but even then those are getting a bit edgy. :L

  18. Thank you for the heads-up. I had heard about this book and it actually sounded like a good story... one that I would enjoy. And probably I would enjoy the plot. However, the crude language would ruin it for me. Yeah, I may pick it up at the library just to thumb through it to judge for myself (because I like to do that!)... but it sure doesn't sound like something I will take the time to read.

  19. I haven't read it and probably won't since that's not the type of book I'm interested in. I do agree with you, why is it necessary to be so vulgar and that goes for movies too!


  20. a hearty 'hear, hear' on your comments. I can tolerate strong language, but hate sm*t (insert 'u'...wasn't sure if that is considered a trigger word).

    Oddly, I've noticed that strong language on an audio book is very offensive...I think because it intrudes itself into my day-to-day life in a way that reading a book or watching a movie does not, since I often listen to audio books while ironing or doing extended laundry folding/mending/etc. I generally skim over written profanity and tolerate it if a movie is otherwise good and profanity is not part of a character's every utterance but only used to depict strong emotion.

    I realize that my standards vary based largely upon content and usage instead of a blanket moratorium on all strong language. Maybe I should be more discerning as a Christian.


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