Wednesday, February 9, 2011
As a result, I've been paying particular attention to the beginnings of some of the books I've read recently and thinking about books I've read in the past. I remember when I first read Stephen King's Salem's Lot. My husband and I were both active duty Army stationed in Germany. He had CQ duty and had to stay awake all night on assignment, so a friend loaned him this book. The way he described it to me was something like 'it started out kinda slow but then grabbed me by the throat and dragged me the rest of the way through.' (That book scared the crap out of me, by the way. I tried to read it and had to give it back. I'd just had a baby and decided I couldn't be a responsible adult if I was afraid to walk down the hallway when I was home alone at night with the baby. And then I decided I wanted to read it after all and couldn't get hold of it until we returned to the States--months later.).
But it begs the question. Is our need to provide the 'throat grabbing' right in the very first paragraphs of a book a reflection of changing tastes in our society? Have the high action films (and books) that thrill viewers (and readers) addicted us to the adreline rush, so we're no longer satisfied with a story that takes time to develop the characters and the plotline?
It makes me wonder how some of the classics would do in the modern publishing world? Can't you just see Jane Austen or Herman Melville or even Milton querying for an agent?