Literary Disappointment

760 pages later, and nothing to report.

Life is full of disappointments.

I intended for my next column to be about my personal sacrifices of Lent with boasts and self brags about my strict adherence to my pledge (which kind of goes against one of the main points of ‘suffering in silence’, huh?)  Well, I’ll spare you that ‘disappointment’.

But that led me to another disappointment.  Over 30 years ago, a book came out called “The Clan of the Cave Bear” by Jean Auel.  Those of you older than 30 have surely heard of this book, and its incredibly disappointing movie by the same name.  That book was followed by four sequels over the next 29 years, averaging about one book every seven years.  The series has a huge following worldwide.  The author spends years painstakingly researching the tiniest details of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal life to use in her books. 

The fifth book in the series came out in 2002.  Some years later the sixth book rumors began.  Finally late last year, the release date was announced.  On March, 29, 2011, the sixth (and reportedly final) book in the series, “The Land of Painted Caves”,  was released.

I eagerly anticipated the new book, finding out how what was going to happen to all my favorite characters and was excited about what I presumed was going to be a great read.  As soon as I could, I downloaded the 760 page novel to my Kindle and began reading furiously.

Half way in, I was still waiting for something to happen.  Anything.  In fact, it wasn’t until I read about 70 percent (according to Kindle) of the book that anything of significance happened at all.  And of that 70 percent, at least three fourths of that was cut-n-paste from the previous five novels, the worst such offense being the reprinting of a long song/poem so many times in the book, that I could probably recite it for you now.   There are many other examples of the redundancy issues, and I am not alone in my distaste for it.  Just one Google search for a review will confirm it. 

I realize that Ms. Auel has been writing these novels and characters for over 30 years at this point, and is now 75 years of age.  But has no editor, no friend, no family member ever suggested that the last book of the series, that millions of readers have been waiting NINE YEARS for, actually have some sort of NEW material?  Plot points and questions that have been carried through all five novels still remain unresolved.  The last third of the book seems to set up a confrontation, which never occurs. 

It’s these kind of disappointments—the ones that follow a big build-up of confident happy expectation—that bum me out the most.  I hate anticipating something and being sure of how something is going to play out, and then find out I’m all wrong.  It’s funny—as I write that, I realize how true that is—not only with silly things like books and movies, but with more important things like relationships and life goals.  So maybe this disappointment wasn’t all bad. I did get a life lesson out of it, after all. 


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