Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Flush The Poddy

"Well, one of my gal pals (a published writer with Warner), apparently tiring of my invective, tried to convince me that just as many bad books get published as good. I used to think that way, until I became a bottom-feeder. I objected: 'No way. I'd like you to show me one book that comes even near the garbage I've read, yet was still published by a major house.'

My friend went over to her bookshelf (filled with thousands (!) of books), pulled off a paperback, ripped off the cover and the front matter and handed it to me.

I read the first pages of chapter one . . .

[Ben] graduated from a small Eastern college on a day in June. Then he flew home. The following evening a party was given for him by his parents. By eight o'clock most of the guests had arrived but Benjamin had not yet come down from his room. His father called up from the foot of the stairs but there was no answer. Finally he hurried up the stairs and to the end of the hall.

"Ben?" he said, opening his son's door.

"I'll be down later," Benjamin said.

"Ben, the guests are all here," his father said. "They're all waiting."

"I said I'll be down later."

Mr. Braddock closed the door behind him. "What is it," he said.

Benjamin shook his head and walked to the window.

"What is it, Ben."


"Then why don't you come on down and see your guests."

Benjamin didn't answer.


"Dad," he said, turning around, "I have some things on my mind right now."

"What things."

"Just some things."

"Well can't you tell me what they are?"


That was as far as I got before closing the book. Is this supposed to be compelling? Holy cow. Is it just me or is this the stuff slush piles are made of?”

Poddy calls this very bad writing. As soon as I read the first paragraph I knew this was the first page of The Graduate. I’ve never read the book, but I have seen the movie-who hasn’t?

One simple test of whether the first page of any novel is any good is whether it interests you in reading more.

Reading this first page just might get me to check the book out from the library.

Why? I want to know what preoccupies Benjamin Braddock so much that he won’t attend his own graduation party.

The writing here may not sing, but there’s nothing wrong with simple, declarative sentences.

Thanks to the appearance of blogs like Pod-dy Mouth and Grumpy Old Bookman, I’ve taken the opportunity to read the first chapters or samples of several self-published books. I find it very telling that while none of those samples compelled me to read further, the first page of a book Poddy threw in the trash did.

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