We here at Blogagaard Inc. have given up on finishing our fair share of novels in the last few years. It didn't always used to be this way-in high school and college we used to read and read, no matter how horrible or bored we grew, because back then we felt that finishing a mediocre or bad book was a matter of honor, sort of like how America likes to get mired in wars we cannot possibly win. I mean, we read the entirety of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, for Christ's sake! SO BORING!!!
But we have grown older and wiser since those heady reading days, and our tolerance is much weaker. Life is short, is it not? Why read a book you don't really enjoy when there's a fuckload out there to read? Unless maybe you're trapped on a plane with it and you paid $25 at the airport gift shop. Then you should lap up every putrid word of it, airplane monkey!
My formula for giving up on a book is based on a number of factors. Is it just a book I picked up at random from the library, and can easily be returned with nobody harmed? Have I heard a lot of buzz about this book? Does it in some way tie in to my own sphere of writing? Was it heavily recommended to me by a trusted source? Then, depending on these factors, I might give a book anywhere between 2-100 pages, with the longest leash to date given to War & Peace, which I set aside after 500 pages with about as many to go (I was starting grad school at the time, and keep telling myself I'll go back to it. Uh, someday.) Overall, however, I'd say I give most books about 50 pages before I chuck them violently across the room, weep in defeat, and eye my Xbox gaming system with a lusty eye.
MY TOP THREE REASONS FOR QUITTING A NOVEL
1. Lame ass/no discernible plot. You'd think editors would have an eye out for this pretty obvious problem, but the lamely plotted novel happens more often than the writing community would like to admit. Literary fiction is the prime perpetrator of this crime against your brain.
2. Characters you don't give a shit about, even if they are "fully realized". I'm looking at you, Franzen.
3. Flat out bad writing. You can't see the forest for the stilted word trees.
And the wildcard factor: how many pages are left of this piece of shit, anyway?
Author's Note: It's okay, dear reader, if you quit one of my own books early (I'm looking at you, relatives). I just hope you gave me twenty pages of rope to hang myself with first. That's all a poor scribbler can ask for in this mixed-up, multimedia world.