Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Reader's Diary #875- Paul Glennon: Bookweird

Paul Glennon's The Dodecahedron was one of the last books that I recommended to just about everyone I knew. It was bizarre, globe-trotting, genre-bending, experimental, philosophical, fun, and written for true bibliophiles. Actually, I could be wrong about the last one. It turned out to be too much for many people I'd thrust it upon. It almost got me kicked out of a book club. It was nominated for a Governor General's Award in 2006, so clearly someone else felt as enthusiastic as I, but it's also gone into rapid obscurity, so clearly others felt as enthusiastic as my book club.

Nowadays Glennon is mostly known for his Bookweird trilogy aimed at younger bibliophiles. Basically it's about a boy named Norman who discovers that eating a page from a book has some rather serious repercussions. Suddenly he's altered the plot and finds himself slipping in and out of this and other books, wreaking even more damage whilst trying to put things back on track. As fun as it is, it's not as original as The Dodecahedron. In fact it was the plot of one of the 12 stories in The Dodecahedron. In fact, children entering stories has been done almost since there have stories for them to enter into. In fact, when I was in primary school I won a silver dollar from our local library for a short story I wrote in which that was the very same premise.

But it could still be pulled off. Unfortunately, I don't think it was. In The Dodecahedron the stories were shorter and faster paced. They were connected (ingeniously so) and it was easy to be swept away. In Bookweird, Norman spends far too much time in the four other stories that the frame story is often forgotten and the connection between them seems lost in the shuffle.

If I'm being completely honest, it's hard to say if that's the real problem. I've been incredibly harsh about Charlotte Gray's Gold Diggers for being riddled with typos, saving most of my ire for the publishers. Gold Diggers was not self-published or even published by a low-budget indie publisher. It was published by HarperCollins. I actually think Bookweird tops that one. And it's published by Random House. I don't know much about the publishing industry, so maybe some authors out there can fill me in: when a publisher agrees to publish your book is there something in your contract about editing? Do you, at the very least, assume that they'll spend some time, effort and money into checking it over for typos? For either of those questions, if the answer is no, it shouldn't be.

Here's why: when it's edited as poorly as Bookweird you don't need to be a grammar nazi to notice and once you start noticing that everything else falls by the wayside. Maybe I wouldn't have had issues with the amount of time Norman spent in each story, for instance, maybe the misspelled words just put me in a rotten mood. I do know that I won't be bothering with the next 2 in the series. Paul Glennon should be pissed.


indiscriminatecritic said...

That's one of the best intro paragraphs I've read in some time. I've never experienced that reaction from a book club, but I can still feel your emotion vicariously. You've managed to pique my interest with Dodecahedron, though, and I've added it to the hundreds of other books sitting high up on my TBR pile.

John Mutford said...

Indiscriminatecritic: Yeah, it was pretty volatile group. Passions were also pretty high for and against a particular Jane Jacobs.

Nicola Mansfield said...

Wow! You know I'm a fan of this series. I have the 3rd, Bookweirderest in my pile for this month! *But* I read an ARC of Bookweird so can't comment on the mistakes; I'm sure they were there but I have to ignore them in an ARC and just assume they get fixed in the final copy.

I usually notice spelling mistakes, and glaring grammar errors bother me so I just checked my review of Bookweirder and didn't make note of any... Hmm, I'll be keeping a good look out reading this last one.

I really do like the story however. I'm a huge fan of animal fantasy though, so I like that aspect just as much, more?, than the jumping into the books.

John Mutford said...

Nicola: Well, unfortunately they did not get fixed in the final copy. It's good to hear that you didn't notice mistakes in the 2nd and 3rd books. Maybe I'll consider them after all. I am a fan of Glennon, my issues with Bookweird were mostly with the publishers.