Sunday, March 12, 2017

I'm Having a Problem with Liane Moriarty's Latest Novel

My almost-Australian cousin introduced me to the term "vague-posting".

This is where someone tries to be mysterious by posting on social media and leaving out the details. The goal is for their "friends" and followers to want more information.  It's a way to get attention.

I can't believe she said that!

Why do these things have to happen to me?

I can't believe I just ate that.

I'm so excited for this weekend!

He's being so unfair!

One thing I've come to realize, both from myself and others, is that not all vague-posting is about getting attention.  Sometimes it's about venting. You are all bottled up. You gotta take off that cork because it's suffocating you. You want to speak out, but you don't feel comfortable or safe giving out specific details.

So yeah. I guess we could divide vague-posting into two categories: venting and attention-seeking.

Either way, it's kind of annoying...especially when it's done frequently.  I personally don't find it very attractive.

And now I'm reading Jaclyn's Moriarty's Truly Madly Guilty, and it's full of this vague-posting behavior.

 Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors.  But...yikes!

I'm not saying I dislike the book.  I'm enjoying my time reading it.

But it's annoying.

Most of the book is about this mysterious thing that happened at a neighborhood picnic.  All the point-of-view characters know what happened at this picnic, but they're not telling the reader what it is.  They're just dropping hints...like vague-posters.

Sometime ago...somewhere (not being purposely vague here. I just don't remember) I learned it's not good to have a mystery that's based on information the characters know and are keeping from the reader.

I thought about this while reading the novel and questioned whether I dislike the practice only because I was taught it's wrong.  Is there anything inherently wrong with it? Is it REALLY a problem?  Or have I just been prejudiced by advice I was given?

Now that I'm about 1/3 through the book, I'm concluding that I do actually find this type of writing distasteful. I haven't just been brainwashed.

The writing technique feels cheap to me.

Besides vague-posting, you know what else it's like?

Clickbait!

Do we click on clickbait because we expect a good story and good writing, or because we have become victims of our morbid curiosity?

And there's the question—am I reading the book because it's actually good, or because I now have to find out what happened at this damn picnic?

Well, in the case of this book, I actually DO find it good.  I find the characters interesting and relatable. I love Moriarty's casual writing style.  But if I didn't like the characters, the writing, etc?  Would I feel obligated to continue so I could find out about the picnic event?

I think one of the problems with novelists using clickbait/vague-posting techniques is that expectations are built up.

Am I going to be blown away by this picnic event? What if I'm disappointed?  What if it doesn't seem like a big enough deal to me?  What if I think it's silly?  Will I regret the time I put into reading the novel?

I'm thinking about the previous Liane Moriarty novel I read—Big Little Lies.  If I remember correctly, that had the same kind of vague-posting thing.  In that, though, I think it was just at the little interview snippets at the front/back (?) of each chapter.  I don't think the regular narrative had it.
I loved Big Little Lies, but I wasn't a fan of the little interview snippets.  My dislike was probably due to the vague-posting aspects.  Now this next Moriarty novel has even more of it.  It's infected the whole narrative. In fact, I think it's pretty much the backbone of the novel.