I was asked by a book club in San Diego who’d chosen The Frog Prince as their book selection for October if I’d be willing to participate in their book discussion via a conference call. I agreed and last night at eight I was put on speakerphone and for twenty-five minutes I answered whatever questions I could. Because I’ve joined a number of book clubs and reader groups already for Frog Prince discussions, I’m pretty familiar with most the questions asked and points made, but last night a new question was asked of me.
Do I, as an author, mind when my book is called a fast read?
No, I answered, while silently I wondered, should I mind?
But later, after the call ended and I was putting my kids to bed, I returned to the question of ‘fast reads’, and maybe it’s my Harlequin training, or maybe its my affinity for popular fiction, but I like fast reads. Some of my favorite books on my shelves (The Rainbow by DH Lawrence, The Golden Bowl by Henry James, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton) are not fast reads, but they’re books I savor for the depth and complexity brought to the story through theme, characterization and rich layered prose.
My books can’t compare with great literature. For one, I haven’t the deep characterization, and for another, my prose isn’t textured or layered. It’s right there for the taking. Am I a glib writer? I don’t think so. I write to the rhythm in my inner ear, but I certainly don’t labor over the sentences trying to craft them and shape them and make them something they are not.
I can not pretend to be anything other than what I am. And my books can’t hope to compete with weighty books or novels by authors like Michael Cunningham and Anita Shreve. I am light. I’m a fast read.
As an author, I’m okay with it. But from a reader’s perspective, is that bad?
I don’t know.