Thursday, March 13, 2008


This question was my suggestion. The last time my idea was used I unintentionally snubbed the BTT crowd and didn't even respond! Time to make amends.

How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:
__________ would have been a much better book if ______________________.

Every time a reviewer, self-included, writes something negative about a book, we essentially do this. However, before anyone thinks it's a bit presumptuous or egotistical to suggest we could do better, I acknowledge that everyone has different tastes, and my suggestions might only work for me. In the case of the one I'm picking today, I know I'm out of line. After all, the ratio of Tolkien to Mutford booksales is about a gazillion to zero. Still...

The Lord of The Rings trilogy would have been much better if he'd cut out all the songs.

I didn't find them charming, I didn't find they added anything and essentially they weighed the books down. You might disagree but Peter Jackson had the good sense to leave them out of the movies.


BooksPlease said...

I enjoyed our question and your answer. I thought of Lord of the Rings when I read the question but decided to leave it alone. I agree about the songs though.

Anonymous said...

The Elven songs, yes, but not Bilbo's. I think about 'The road goes ever on and on' every time I walk out of the door.

Lezlie said...

Your answer made me smile! I listened to the audio books of these, and the songs drove me nuts! :-)


Anonymous said...

Great question, John!

I agree my answer was a bit drastic! I seldom throw any book! Too much respect for the printed media!

Any song in any audio book drives me nuts!

heather (errantdreams) said...

To me, the thing that most makes me wish I could change a book is to see characters behaving in an out-of-character fashion---such that you can see the marionette strings the author is pulling in order to achieve the story he wants. I want the characters to feel real, and they don't when the author does that.

Stephanie said...

I really liked your question, John! It's brought on a whole lot of discussion, that's for sure! One of these days, I'm going to have to read Tolkien. I'm bowing my head in shame that I haven't.

Idaho Gal said...

Yes, the songs were a bit too much. Nice post!

Rob Hardy said...

Oh, I like the songs. I used to have an old Caedmon record of Tolkien himself singing "Troll sat alone on a seat of stone and munched and mumbled a bare old bone..." It was a hoot.

pussreboots said...

I agree with you on the songs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Actually most books would be better without the included poetry/songs/journal entries. I do however, adore the songs in The Hobbit.

Happy BTT.

trish said...

As you've seen around the blogosphere, your question has generated quite a bit of discussion. But I think that your answer is nicely stated; you're not changing the structure or the story, merely removing something that's fairly trivial in the book...ahh, good answer, good answer!

Chrisbookarama said...

Great question, John! I like your answer. I accused Rand of being long winded and got my butt very politely handed to me. People don't like their books messed with.

Maree said...

It's an interesting question, and it's been very interesting reading people's interpretations of it.
The songs in The Lord of the Rings never bothered me that much; I just kind of skipped over them.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, but your answer made me laugh! Thanks.

John Mutford said...

Booksplease: Glad you enjoyed it!

Table Talk: It's been forever since I read it so I don't remember differentiating between the songs.

Lezlie: That's interesting. Did they have them set to any particular tune? Was their instrument accompaniment?

Gautami: With the exception of an occasional short story or poem, I haven't listened to any audio books.

Heather: That would be annoying. I'm sure I've encountered this, but I can't remember any examples off the top of my head. From books. From TV I can think of hundreds.

Stephanie: We all have those books that everyone else has read but we haven't.

Idaho Gal: Nice to know I'm not alone in my assessment.

Rob: As I implied above, different strokes for different folks. I'd be curious to hear that though. I wonder who wrote the music?

Pussreboots: I'm not sure I'd extend it to journal entries and poetry-- though it would depend on the book and how it was used. Have you ever read Sarah Binks? The whole point was the poems.

Trish: Yes, the question itself generated more discussion than the answers! Seems to have ruffled a few feathers.

Maree: I can't say I focused too intently on them either.

Poodlerat: And that's why editting is such a tricky business. Please one reader, disappoint another.

Lezlie said...

No accompaniment, and the reader had some kind of tune going. He actually had a good voice, and I give him a 10 for effort, but it just wasn't my thing. I wondered if the reader felt a little silly. :-)