_The Thief_, with spoilers galore--extra long for your enjoyment

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Apr 4 14:49:01 EST 2002

On Sun, 10 Mar 2002 22:13:02 +0800, Anita Graham wrote:

>Melissa, have you read "The Family Tree" by Sherri Tepper? I've read your
>explanations of "cheating" meaning that the author had to use a particular
>technique to achieve her ends. Did Tepper do the same in "The Family Tree"?

I haven't read the book, so I don't know.  (I am reluctant to read any of
Tepper's books these days, after _Singer from the Sea_.)  But I think it's
more than just using a particular technique; it's what bad writers do when
they aren't skilled enough to surprise a reader any other way.  This is why
_The Thief_ bothered me, because I thought it showed excellent writing skill
and I was genuinely surprised that the author had to resort to something I
perceived as a novice's trick.

>Apropos of the mention of Dorothy Dunnet (who I haven't read), will this
>mean that Turner's next book will have us reading so carefully for clues and
>misdirections that we don't enjoy the story?

That's kind of my point about so-called cheating.  If a writer depends on
misdirection like this, eventually readers get wise and are bored, or don't
feel they can trust what the writer is saying.  It's hard to build a career
on this foundation.  Notice that Agatha Christie only wrote ONE mystery like
_Roger Ackroyd_.  

Melissa Proffitt
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