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Home Blogs The Arts No, thank you. I will not be reviewing the book.

No, thank you. I will not be reviewing the book.

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A big time publicist, who will remain nameless, sent me an advance reading copy of a novel due out this fall. I didn't ask for it, but I like this press rep, and she's been really nice to a small market reviewer like me, so I gave the book a whirl.

Didn't get past the fourth sentence.

See if you can find how many things are wrong with this opening.

It was during the Thompson-Delacroix wedding, Caren's first day on the job, that a cottonmouth, measuring the length of a Cadillac, fell some twenty feet from a live oak on the front lawn, landing like a coil of rope in the lap of the bride's future mother-in-law. It only briefly stopped the ceremony, this being Louisiana and all. Within minutes, an off-duty sheriff's deputy on the groom's side found a 12-gauge in the groundskeeper's shed and shot the thing dead, and after, one of the cater-waiters was kind enough to hose down the grass. The bride and groom moved on to their vows, staying on schedule for a planned kiss at sunset, the mighty Mississippi blowing a breeze through the line of stately, hundred-year-old trees.


Does this book's big name publisher not have a wildlife expert on retainer or at least have the phone number of someone who is familiar with cottonmouth country?

I've lived in the piney woods of East Texas all my life ... in town, mind you, but I can promise (1) that snake would have been long gone, with all the commotion of the wedding preparations and (2) it would have not been the length of a Cadillac. A full-grown viper would be between 30-48 inches, according to several websites I Googled this afternoon. (3) Even if it had been caught sleeping and was cornered up in a live oak, it would not have landed like a "coil of rope" in the mama of the groom's (MOG) lap.

While they coil when threatened, if a cottonmouth lost its grip and went sailing through the air, that sucker woulda been stiff as a rod, prolly crooked only at the neck, mouth wide open and loaded for bear. Nothing worse that a mad cottonmouth (water moccasin). MOG would not have survived the strikes that ticked off animal woulda gotten in before the sheriff's deputy found a 12-guage.

And, (4) for the record, there would have been no "finding" of a weapon in the groundskeeper's shed. The deputy, off duty or not, woulda been packing. He woulda pulled his service revolver and made one clean kill shot through the head, leaving little or no mess.

MOG would prolly still be in bad shape with all those bites and all, but it wouldn't taken "minutes" to stop the attack.

(5) The commotion caused by a mad snake falling from the sky at a fine affair like this woulda sent everyone straight to the bar while the EMTs tended to the victim. No way the bride and groom would have kissed at sunset ... Once the guests had a taste of bourbon and branch, the couple woulda been lucky to get everyone back in their chairs before midnight.

(6) How does a river blow a breeze? Seriously. A breeze might blow over the water, but the river doesn't put its lips together and blow. (Cheesy movie reference, I know, but at least Lauren Bacall made the line work.)

*Stepping down off the soapbox.*

Did I miss anything? Please weigh in ...

 

Comments (11)Add Comment
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written by a guest , September 06, 2012
All I can think of is what would Miss Burkam have said after she quit laughing???
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written by a guest , June 19, 2012
That this is print at all gives hope to all aspiring writers! You covered the amazing first sentences very thoroughly in your critique-thanks for the reminder that there are bizarre things happening every minute in the book world!
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My wedding coulda used a bar...
written by a guest , June 19, 2012
Thank you, Terry, for giving me the inspiration to finish my revisions today. I might not be writing To Kill a Mockingbird, but I am sure my writing is better than that.

Also, I wanted a bar but someone we both know and love nixed that idea. Something about Southern Baptists...smilies/wink.gif

Melissa WL
StanWright
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written by StanWright , June 18, 2012
smilies/grin.gif Thank you Mrs Irving, my 7th grade Librarian... for starting me on a lifetime love of reading.
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Shoulda, woulda, coulda
written by a guest , June 18, 2012
To the author of no rudeness intended: Learn to proofread yo own sentenzes before you criticize others. And in a blog, shoulda, woulda, coulda are perfectly acceptable ....
terrymathews
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written by terrymathews , June 18, 2012
It's a blog, where we can write like we speak. This will not run in print. Shoulda made that clear. My bad.

The literary devices just don't ring true. No matter how far I read, I would not have gotten past the river blowing a breeze. IMHO. There are too many things wrong to go any further. Others may not be bothered by the things that stood out to me.

The author is not totally to blame here. It's a second book. Where are the editors, fact checkers and advance readers who are supposed to catch these things?

FYI. The author says the snake is as long as a Cadillac. If the author had said cadaver, I coulda gone with that. I've seen snakes hanging on branches over the Caddo River as long as a person. Never have I seen one as long as a car.
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No rudeness intended..
written by a guest , June 18, 2012
No rudeness intended, but I find your response to the four sentences you read of the book ironic.
I only say this because I don't understand how you can't see The literary devices the author attempts to use. When the author says the snake is as long as a cadaver he/she is merely using hyperbole.
Also, I believe the author is attempting to use personification when he/she says the river blew a breeze.
I don't think the author effectively uses literary devices, I don't think the author did proper research before writing the book, but then again, this is on a short excerpt of the while book, how can anyone judge the entire book from just 4 sentences?
I honestly see this as a filler story or yo didn't have enough time to read the full book and write an honest review on it so you just formed your opiniom of the whole book by just reading the first four sentenzes.
Also, 'woulda' is not a word, not even in small town USA, and the fact that it was used in an opinion column of a newspaper that is criticizing an author for not being more realistic on his/her writing is sort of ironic, wouldn't you say?
terrymathews
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written by terrymathews , June 18, 2012
Good points. The sentence structure is horrific. Guess I passed over it when the snake fell from the sky. And, yes, MOG woulda been packing. But would she have had a chance to pull Saturday night special outta her little Judith Lieber jeweled frog evening bag? smilies/cheesy.gif
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Commas
written by a guest , June 18, 2012
Very hard to follow with all the reverse sentences and commas. Those few sentences could have made for a page of hilarity had it been better written.
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written by a guest , June 18, 2012
In East Texas, the MOG would have been packing, too...
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written by a guest , June 18, 2012
Oh well never mind I thought about buying the book to see if it got any worse, however your awesome review (OOOOPS sorry) PERUSAL and view of the materials contained there in print, was good enough for me...LOL

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