Right now, I'm reading a religious allegory, because a good friend recommended it. I felt a little obligated to read it, and to be honest, it's a clever book. I'm not going to name it or the writer here in this blog, because I don't want to write a negative review because this is something (as far as I can tell) that is happening to me uniquely. This book, threading characters of Jesus and calling him Joseph and giving him a best friend named Biff is very clever. It's sooo clever. But I know its clever...it's annoyingly clever...and yes...the things make sense. I think "how did I never think of that?" "Oh boy is this writer clever..." and things like that. But I'm not enjoying the book. It's annoying me. I'm going to finish it because I feel a sense of obligation about it. However, I'd really like it if I never read another "clever" novel again for a really long time.
Here's the thing. Jesus HAS a story, and it's written about already in the New Testament. That story is done, and it's there for all to read and interpret and think about. Cinderella has one too. So does Snow White, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Lord of the Rings has a story. I don't need to read Bored of the Rings so that someone can show me how clever they are at taking a story and altering it with clever nuances and observations to make it funny. I just don't need that in my life at this time. It serves no purpose. Yes, the writer is clever. So please take the door that exits out onto "Clever Avenue" and stop bothering me. There are throngs of people who want to shower adulation upon you that say, "You are so clever!" Why do you need it from me?
I also want to be clear that I do still appreciate more subtle versions of clever. I appreciate when there are clever characters doing clever things. I appreciate smart stories that aren't so blatantly trying to give new spins to historical characters. You want to reinvent King Arthur? That sounds great. You want to Monty Python King Arthur again? I'll take a hard pass, although I'm sure others will think its great.
I guess what I'm complaining about really is that I'm kind of fed up with writers who quite obviously are wanting you to look up from the page and exclaim, "Boy, isn't this writer smart to have thought of that?" I've been doing it quite a bit lately, and I don't like it. I want a story to take hold of me and carry me away and leave me breathless, saying, "Wow, what a good story!" The story should be what I'm talking about...not how clever the writer is.
I think being a clever writer has been clever-clevered to the point of it being cliche.
And that's all I've got to say about that.