Welcome to Weeping Wednesday, an occasional feature form Seeking the New Earth where we spotlight prose that makes us weep — either with joy or revulsion.
My Bride and I love used booking. We always come home with something new to us and interesting. On occasion, we’ll find a book that’s been signed that’s cheap, and we’ll pick it up for the heck of it. This past Friday, we found The Legend of Rah and the Muggles by N. K. Stouffer. My Bride plucked it from the shelf for its curious use of a word nearly always associated with Harry Potter. We were further intrigued when we discovered it had originally been copyrighted in 1984.
Oh, yeah. It was also signed by the author. Bonus.
So, for a slick $2.99, we brought it home. I researched it online. Amazon boasts 46 reviews. 39 have only one star. Apparently Stouffer jumped into the spotlight when she sued J. K. Rowling for the use of the word Muggle. I was completely ignorant of this little tidbit, and intrigued me all the more.
Those bad reviews? Yeah. They were honest. These weren’t Potter-philes dumping on someone who attacked their beloved author. As one reviewer said, “This book is bad on its own merits.”
Would you care for an example?
The book seems to be marketed toward younger children. The illustrations within the novel would fit with something a level below Wizard of Oz for the target audience. However, the opening paragraphs…
On the far side of the earth, Aura citizens fought great wars with other nations. They had lived a relatively peaceful coexistence until government representatives became restless and greedy. The need for power and control seemed to spread throughout the Congress of United People, C.O.U.P., like a disease out of control. The discord caused great unrest within the colonies. Absent any real or decisive leadership, citizens gathered arms and formed militia groups.
These splinter revolutionaries were determined to reclaim democracy, and preserve the legacy their forefathers had given their lives to make possible.
To most of Aura’s citizens it appeared that all of this unrest had occurred suddenly, when it had actually taken years and years of corruption and political maneuvering to tear apart the very fibers of the Constitutional Charter. The Charter made democracy possible for all nations and gave its citizens inalienable rights. It was masterfully written to insure that the citizens would control the government, and it was intended to prevent government intrusion into the private lives of citizens.
OK, first off: infodump. Second off, if you’re aiming at kindergarten to young gradeschoolers… take a look at that vocabulary. I’m all for increasing the word-power of our youth, but that’s ridiculous. Know your audience, and let your word choices match. If you’re writing for young children, write with them in mind. That doesn’t mean talking down, but it does mean using more words that they understand to take them from known to unknown.
I suspect over the next weeks I’ll be picking more passages from this book. From what I’ve sampled, it really is as bad as it says on Amazon. If you’re looking for a book to not emulate, you’ve found it!