The Good Wife. Kinda sorta.
My husband, journalist and author Thomas Claburn, recently completed his second novel, Oversight, and I just finished reading it. So this is where the good wife says nice things about the old ball and chain's book because that's how we do - that's my job, right? Well, as with most things in my complicated life, there'a a little more to it in our case. I love my husband and think he's incredibly smart and creative and a very good writer, but the truth is that he had to drag me kicking and screaming into reading this book. Bad, bad wife. Allow me to explain.
I have a strong aversion to dystopian science fiction. In fact, I absolutely hate it in all forms: I hate it in books, I hate it in movies, I hate it in TV shows. I find it totally depressing to imagine a future in which (insert apocalyptic catalyst here) brings out the absolute worst in human nature and we live like farm animals or mercenary gladiators or lab rats or diseased zombies or whatever torturous conditions the author came up with until death mercifully takes us. I know I am the exception - seems like most people eat that foul broth up with a spoon and enjoy every drop. My husband loves that stuff - lives and breathes it - and his book is written in that vein. But to me the thought of slogging through several hundred pages of bleak narrative that will no doubt push me into a psychological pit of despair is just about more than I can take. So you see the source of my dilemma.
"OK, OK - fine - I'll proofread it for you. But don't expect me to give you feedback on the story or characters or anything of substance 'cause you know I have no objectivity," I tell him when he finally guilts me into reading it as it heads for publication next year. Here's the plot twist: it's a cliche (because it's true) that good storytelling is everything, and Tom's book has reminded me of this immutable law of fiction. It (almost) doesn't matter the context of the narrative (in this case the not-too-distant future in which our lives are controlled and circumscribed by corporate interests and government via digital implants) when the characters are well-drawn, the storyline is compelling, and the central plot unfolds in an engaging series of events. I got hooked, tore through the book pretty quickly, and enjoyed it despite the tics of the genre, which is a testament to Tom's gifts as a writer. He may have had to open my mind with a crowbar, but in the end, I stepped outside my comfort zone and read his book. And it was really good, for real. And I can say I am a good wife. Kinda. Sorta.