I probably have a completely different take on this subject than you or most of your readers have. (Why not? I've been told I'm weird, anyway.)Thank you, James, for your perspective. You can find out more about James V. Lee and his books at Salado Press.
I don't read much fiction--never have. I've always been interested in picking the brains of people that are better informed or smarter than I am. So I'm not looking for style or clever prose. I'm searching for ideas that inspire and enlighten.
I've probably read every book that Og Mandino wrote. Some other authors were Napoleon Hill, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, Henry Drummond, James Allen, Norman Vincent Peale, J. Paul Getty, Rudyard Kipling, etal. Then there were such classical essayists as Voltaire and Marcus Aurealus. Alexander Pope observed that some books are to be tasted, some chewed, and some to be swallowed and digested. The above books fall into the third category, and much of their content made its way into my character.
All of these authors have one thing in common: they discuss ideas, which, according to some philosophers is what great minds do. Average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.
I'm especially put off by historical novels that confuse young minds that need to know the truth. For example, a few years ago a movie was made of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. (I assume someone wrote a book about it first.) The movie combined the Pearl Harbor bombing (1941) with the Battle of Britain (1940), and the Battle of Midway (1942) as if they were concurrent events and then wove a love story through the whole scenario. They made it worse by inadvertently including in one scene the USS Arizona Memorial. Young people have a hard enough time just learning historical facts without skewing them.
Then there is such a thing a literary overkill. A few years ago, I was a member of a western writers group. At that time, the group was searching for some way to make western novels more popular with the general public. Cowboy stories circa about 1880 were prolific when I was a kid. How much more can be fictionalized about that era? Probably the whole genre should have been concluded when Zane Grey died.
2 weeks ago