Thursday, December 14, 2006

Literary Transformations

Sara Gruen wrote two novels with lots of horses in them: Riding Lessons and Flying Changes. They were pretty bad, in spite of the fact that the horse stuff was really interesting. To me at least. I love horses. The heroine was supposed to be feisty and smart, but she came off is bitchy and incompetent. The first novel was riddled with cliches, complete with the scene where the woman burns her boyfriend's kitchen down trying to cook him a gourmet meal. For some reason in our modern world a lack of basic cooking skills is supposed to show that women are above all that. The prose were awkward and the storyline wasn't very believable. I just found it so hard to believe that this woman, a belligerent ditz and obnoxious parent managed to learn nothing and still got the guy. ARGH. Just writing about that novel has me annoyed and frustrated. It was one step above an average romance novel.

She wrote a sequel Flying Changers that I bought. I know, I know... but there are so few adult books with lots of horses I just can't help myself. It was a small step above the last one, but the heroine was dumb and ditzy as before and nobody notices or calls her on it.

But the most amazing thing is that Sara Gruen wrote a third novel called Water for Elephants that's a NYT best seller and it's been winning all these literary awards. It was a top book of the year according to NPR. I just don't get it. How do you write two completely mediocre novels and then come up with a work of literary genius? It's crazy. All I can say is: Go Sara Gruen! I'll put Water for Elephants on my wish list and hope I enjoy it more than her first two.


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