Saturday, June 25, 2011

Altered Expectations

Someone once said that disappointment is the difference between expectation and reality. Indeed I’ve seen it first hand multiple times. A week ago I took my mother to the place of her birth. You see, eighty-one years ago she was born in the Dominican Republic. She moved to St. Kitts with her Kittitian born mother when she was about three and became orphaned soon after. Since then she’d never been back though she desired to. Well, a few of her kids decided to make her dream of visiting her homeland a reality.

When we arrived on the island, Mother was touched to tears. It was beautiful. The area we stayed was touristy and beautifully built-up. The people were friendly and helpful. Everything was perfect until we decided to visit the city of her birth. We rented a car and took what was supposed to be a two hour trip to the city of her birth. The trip took four hours and when we got there, my mother became very quiet. A few minutes later she wanted to leave. Back at the hotel, I asked her why she wanted to leave the city of her birth so quickly. She said when she thought of her home city, she thought of a place with beautiful haciendas, lovely homes, nicely paved streets and artistically designed streetlights. Instead the place was a slum. There were dilapidated buildings, poorly maintained roadways, standing water along the roadways and sidewalks, garbage piled up on every corner. Needless to say, she was disappointed. The reality did not align with her expectation.

The same thing happens in writing. When we see the cover of a book, when we read the first few words, we have certain expectations. But if that book fails to meet our expectations we become disappointed. I shop for books by authors. I have a certain expectation in terms of the genre and the quality of the writing when I see that author’s name. But sometimes, when an author fails to live up to my expectations for them, I find myself disappointed to the point where future books from that author go to the bottom of my reading list. The same thing happens when I hear a good review of a book and it does not live up to the expectations that I have for it.

Have you ever read a book that failed to meet your expectations based on the reviews or the cover or the blurb at the back of the book or the author? How did that impact your decision to read a book by that author again?


G said...

I'm reading one right now that a friend of mine recommended to me, a biography of Henry Miller called "The Devil At Large".

So far, the content and the writing has been exceptionally dry and non-attention grabbing. I'm hoping it gets better, but if it doesn't, this will probably make me thing twice about searching out stuff written by the person who wrote this biography.

Charles Gramlich said...

Reviews don't have a big impact on me unless they are by people who I know have similar tastes to mine. but if I read a book and don't like it it does certainly affect me. If it's the 'first' book I've read by an author it may well put me off them for good. If I've read other good books by them it only delays my picking up another one.

Jewel Amethyst said...

G, I too am reading one, hence to post at this time. It is about world war one. I heard an interview with the author on public radio and thought it would be a great way to learn about the events that lead up to the war. Though the writer has done his research well, it is rather longwinded with so many characters profiled that it's really confusing. I can't decide whether I should continue the torture or not.

Charles, one of my favorite authors is so inconsistent in his quality of writing that I decided several times abandon him. Then he comes out with a blockbuster and I'm hooked again until his next disaster.

Liane Spicer said...

I used to enjoy John Grisham's novels - up until I read Skipping Christmas. I could not believe this skilled novelist could write such a painfully tedious book. I struggled to get through to the end - then wished I hadn't bothered. It put me off Grisham for a long, long time.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Liane, John Grisham is that favorite author I refered to in my response to Charles. He can be terribly longwinded especially when he has a pet ideology to push. The Chamber was tedious. I downloaded one of his latest ones on Kindle and got to the fourth chapter. That was over 6 months ago.