Saturday, May 12, 2012

Extraneous Information

Nancy Cato's Forefathers is 598 pages long.  I'm on page 446.  The book started getting interesting to me around page 400.

There's a guy named Vincent who races cars.  He's really into that.  His girlfriend Maggie is an Aboriginal writer. The two are in love, but they're facing difficulties. Vincent's mother is a racist, snobby bitch.  Then Vincent himself can be a jerk sometimes. Maggie is insecure about the whole relationship.  

Cato spent the prior hundreds of pages of the book to talk about Maggie and Vincent's ancestors. For the most part, it's stories of tragedies.  There was a tragic drowning, a death by throat cancer, and scariest of all, a young child dying from ice-cream food poisoning.

Cato spends very little time on each character.  You get a brief glimpse of a lot of people's lives.   As soon as I begin to understand who someone is, she has usually jumped to a new character.  

What I'm wondering is whether it was all necessary.

My vote would be no.

I think it was a waste of time.

I think Cato should have started with Maggie and Vincent. We don't need to know the life story of all their parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.

If Cato wanted that in the book, there could have been some flashbacks.

When we read Harry Potter we learn a bit about Harry's parents, aunt, grandparents, and some distant ancestors.  But imagine if Rowling started the book by telling the story of Harry's great grandparents, then grandparents, then parents, and then finally she got to Harry.  I think the book would have been MUCH less popular.

I do feel a bit torn in regards to complaining about extraneous information. I used to write posts that were horribly long. If you haven't noticed, I'm trying to do that less these days.

Writing is a great skill to have, but so is editing.