By Terry Brooks
While at O'Hare International Airport, stuck with the prospect of a two-hour flight without reading material, I hopped into one of the news shops to pick up some reading material. Amidst all the various Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, and Ken Follett novels, there was one Terry Brooks novel called Running with the Demon. To let you know where I was coming from (Colorado! Ha! I slay myself sometimes!), I hated the Shanarra series, likening them to The Lord of the Rings with a few names changed here and there. I also hated his writing style in his first original novel (Magic Kingdom for Sale - Sold!) so much, I dropped the book about three chapters into the book. Here I was, thinking that Mr. Brooks had written over a dozen books and, hopefully by now, his writing abilities would be stronger than what I read before. Sadly, I was wrong.
Oh how I wish I had a red pen with me on that flight. On page two of the story proper, the protagonist stops to examine herself in a mirror in order to get a physical description of her in there. (A particular literary pet peeve of mine.)
My creative writing professor would have ripped up the first scene between the grandmother and the grandfather and thrown the scraps into the trash. Terry Brooks shows that there's an emotional distance between these two characters and then adds this clunker of a sentence to close out the paragraph:
"The length of the silence between them implied accurately the vastness of the gulf that separated their lives."
No kidding. You just spent about a page and a half explaining that. Mind putting that sledgehammer down, sir? My forehead hurts.
Did you ever see the long version of David Lynch's Dune? Do you remember the scenes where, when a new character entered the movie, the movie would just sort of stop and wait for the narrator to finish a three-minute introduction? The same thing happens in Running with the Demon.
Also, Terry Brooks seemed more interested in describing the layout of the town rather than tell his story.
This is the first book I've thrown away. Not taken down to the used-book store, not given away, not even dropped off at Goodwill. No, this book was so bad, I decided that nobody should ever have to read this book. I am now a proponent of book burning, but only if the book is Terry Brooks' Running with the Demon. This is coming from someone who still has a copy of Rudy Rucker's White Light. That's how bad this book is.