This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
Carnivorous sheep binges on history and backstory - skimps on entertainment
Celeste and the protagonist (unnamed) have graduated from university and are heading back to Stella’s Cove to visit his mother and then on to Prince Rupert to start their careers and life together. They are taking a small steamer to get to their destination and though the four day trip is uneventful it takes the author 15 pages to tell it.
The next chapter abruptly switches from the couple to the protagonist’s early university days and a involved story about his friend who subsequently dies on the battlefield of WWI Europe.
Where is this book going you ask? Me too.
After 47 pages I still had no sense of what Carnivorus Sheep by Michael Sorbonne Robinson, Sr. was about – no goal, no motivation, and no conflict. I was also confused about the time period, was it the present or a hundred years ago, and wasn’t sure who the protagonist was?
More than anything the introduction and the first two chapters are the author’s interpretation of Canadian history, specifically the boom and busts of small towns along the coast of British Columbia and Canada’s role in the First World War including the Conscription Crisis in Quebec. Almost none of this appears to advance the plot or develop the main characters, but since I don’t know what the plot is about or who the main characters will turn out to be I might be mistaken.
History can make an interesting backdrop for a novel, but history for history’s sake is boring unless, of course, you’re a historian.
Despite being grammatically perfect, Carnivorous Sheep is further challenged by overwriting and redundancies. The sentences are almost all long and complicated and attribute to a pace that is at best plodding.
Robinson is also prone to telling instead of showing. He has his characters tell you what happened rather than showing his characters carrying out the action. This passive writing style lacks the immediacy today’s reader’s demand. I want to be in the moment with the characters, I want to be part of the story experience.
I’m not sure what happens in this novel since I abandoned it after two chapters. I don’t think I missed much since it’s not likely Robinson changed his style or his penchant for mountains of historical backstory that impedes the plot.
I think as an author you must first and foremost entertain the reader. If you fail to do so you’ll lose any opportunity of enlightening or educating them. They’ll simply abandon your book without finishing it – as I did.