I always thought that a well-written story could pretty much overcome any apathy towards the subject matter itself. Hell, if you think of the stakes of the last book you read, odds are that they only matter to the characters themselves.
And yet, when reading Arthur Hailey’s novel In High Places, the major stakes were essentially the possibility of Canada combining a good chunk of its sovereignty with the US. It was written from the Canadian point of view, and it’s pretty safe to say everyone was gravely concerned with the possibility that things might go one way or the other.
Canada’s fate failed to inspire even the slightest interest. I couldn’t care less, so the main political cut and thrust of the book lost a lot of its strength.
Fortunately, there was a subplot which affected the larger events in which a young lawyer attempted to win a court case against all odds. That held my interest sufficiently that I was able to finish the book in a reasonable amount of time.
Hailey sold a ton of books (including the later-filmed Airport), so I suppose a lot of people cared about his subjects and I’m in the minority here, but this one didn’t do much for me at all…
Apparently, political intrigue of great moment to Canadians is my threshold for stuff that actually IS too uninteresting to read about, even in the hands of a master page-turner of a novelist.
This one allowed me to discover more about myself than about the book.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist. His latest book is a collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories that take place outside the usual American and European settings. It’s entitled Off the Beaten Path, and you can buy it here.