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Did Not Finish - This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton

Thursday, October 26, 2017

It is so rare that I don't finish a book so when I don't, I feel really bad about it. But I've not been reading like a smart reader recently, for one reason and another, so I decided to fall back on a rule I read once. The rule said that if you're under 50 years old, you should read fifty pages of a book before deciding whether to give up on it or not. If you're over 50 years old, you can deduct every year over 50 off the pages you should read. So my mum, who is about to turn sixty, should read forty pages of a book before giving up on it, and my grandma, who is 91, should read just nine pages of a book before being allowed to toss it. It makes sense, right, no one who is 91 has time to spend on a book that just isn't grabbing them!

I'm 33, so a fair way under the fifty years old, so I'm stuck with fifty pages. So I picked up This Beats Perfect as I've heard loads of good things about it, and I also knew I was about to start editing my own novel, which is about a band. As This Beats Perfect is also about the music scene, I thought it might be good to read.

However, I just couldn't get into it. At the beginning of the book, it's Amelie's birthday and she's going backstage at a gig that her dad is doing the sound for - he's pretty famous at doing that. The band on stage is The Keep, a boy band that Amelie feels she is far too good for. She gets photogrpahed with one of the band and wakes up to a million Twitter notifications, all wondering who she is.

I was a bit unsure about this beginning to the novel, because it just didn't grab me. It seemed to be existing in nothingness. We saw Amelie and the band and her dad and a couple of other people, but we didn't care about them enough to get emotionall invested. The second part of the book (around 60 pages in, I actually went over the 50 pages before I gave up because I really did want to give it a chance) has Amelie celebrate her birthday with her mum the next day, but it seemed to flash forwards and backwards in time with no warning, and I couldn't centre Amelie very well in that world either.

So, I gave up. Do I feel bad about it? Yes. Do I think this author is a bad author? Of course not. I would give her another chance, for sure. I just didn't click with this book - and that's okay.

Reading the beginning of this combined with reading my own novel brought one thing very clear to me - writing about music is hard. Music is such a sensory experience, but it's auditory, and auditory traits don't tend to translate well on to the page, which we read and don't always otherwise interact with. There's a couple of bits in my own novel where I hope I get across the idea that playing a gig is scary and exhilarating and thrilling and sometimes painful and often amazing. I probably need to work on them more, but it's definitely something I want to pay attention to.

There are a couple of books about music that I really do love, like Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell and My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend by Eleanor Wood. You can check out all my posts with the label 'music' here.

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