Why Readers Stop Reading; Lisa McInerney’s 2016 Bailey’s win, and Penicillin

An interesting survey on why readers stop reading:

There’s more here. It’s published by Lit World Interviews (I found it on a TLC facebook post.) The conclusions are mostly what you’d expect to put readers off (although I particularly loved Unexpected Sex as a deterrent to reading on). But they’re a salutary reminder to us writers that what we must do, first and foremost and without which we haven’t a hope of beguiling our readers, is to write convincing, enthralling, absorbing stories peopled by characters who behave the way human beings behave, in all our complexity. Obviously, you might say. But reminders are good things. Our language must be the best we can possibly manage and there are always better words than swear words (Shakespeare invented his own: we can too). Our research must never show itself: it must seamlessly underpin the story and a piece is never properly finished without a writer paying serious attention to her editor. It’s also essential that our publishers employ pernickety proofreaders.

Lisa McInerney has just won this year’s Bailey’s Prize for Fiction with
The Glorious Heresies The Glorious Heresies - Lisa McInerneywhich sounds as though it’s done everything the readers’ surveyed above could hope for. Reviews include: ‘A big brassy sexy beast of a book.’ Irish Times and: ‘A spectacular debut . . . a head-spinning, stomach-churning state-of-the-nation novel about a nation falling apart.’ The Daily Telegraph. And it’s already in paperback so I’m buying a copy immediately.

And, finally, the thing I’d like to have invented (discovered) in a parallel universe where time is infinite and all things are possible, is penicillin. On Melvyn Bragg’s 9 June In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 I heard this: ‘Life is small pools of order in a universe of disorder. Life has an inside and an outside. And what a bacterium must do – and what we must do – is preserve internal order against an outside disorder … by ingesting and excreting.’ (From What is Life by Erwin Schrödinger (he of the paradox).) One of the things penicillin does, I heard, is to block this in and outflow through the pores in the cell walls, and so inhibit the harmful bacteria. Penicillin was, as of course you know, discovered by accident … just as aspects of character and ways to structure a novel can be, although not, just as happened to Alexander Fleming, until a process of thoughtful examination is already underway.

About Angela

I write fiction about the difficulty we have when we try to say what's in our hearts.
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2 Responses to Why Readers Stop Reading; Lisa McInerney’s 2016 Bailey’s win, and Penicillin

  1. orinoco womble says:

    One thing that puts me off reading contemporary fiction is the series novel, or the novel series. Not using the same characters–that can be OK–but basically writing the same novel again and again with a few changes. Worst offender in this sense, contemporary “cosy mysteries”, but Grisham has done it, too. Also, series that require you to read the whole series, in order, to be able to understand what’s going on. Whatever happened to the standalone novel?