Friday, 14 March 2014

Little D

Breaking with my usual mould, I thought I would write about the struggle I had since last October trying to read a book - Dickens 'Little Dorrit'. I adore Dickens' novels and was expecting to soon become lost in the intricacies of overlapping plots and a myriad of characters brought easily to life by vivid descriptions of physical traits and habits.

Yes, it was partly due to me! I kept putting the book down and wandering away, grumbling because I wasn't about to allow the last Dickens book on my reading list defeat me. I forced myself to continue reading with an almost Captain Ahab stubbornness but something must have happened to change my perspective since becoming an author myself.

And yes, there was that damn song, the one I loved so much - Jamiroquai's 'Little L,' which I couldn't help but hear in my head every time I sat down  to read. I had begun to have the same sentiment towards Little Dorrit; I 'Loved' it' with a little L.

I was swamped with long rambling descriptions, too many characters and I had to backtrack to keep up with who was who. During this time I had one pervading thought:
"If Little Dorrit was submitted to a publisher today would it be accepted for publishing?"
My answer was:
"No."
It stuck me particularly during the first chapter - publishers want to be swept away!

Gone are the days when a serialised novel is then hungrily devoured by readers who relish satirical comment about society, absurd social graces and wrongs forced upon its members. No doubt, Dickens was a game-changer but would it wash today? We have become a cynical public. Publishers would reject and say:
"Not commercial enough"
"Narrative too wordy"
"Who is it aimed at as I cannot see a clearly defined genre?"
It would have become lost in the quagmire.

I pushed myself to read on and when I arrived at page 200 (out of 778) I suddenly found myself mesmerised and found that small nugget of self-comfort, the warmth of being lost in a story. It was only then did I admire the mastery of describing human nature and presenting it so eloquently and without apology. Greed is the theme and how easily people get carried away with themselves.

And so, I am now just over half way through the book and find that I am looking forward to sitting down to read. Ahab has been replaced by Gollum, so precious has my reading time become that I ignore complaints by family when they roar: "put that damn book down and join us!"

Now... the big question is....Would I have done the same for any other author?
Ahab and Little Dorrit