People Like Me

I finally finished the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Whew! It really got tedious, all the shopping and designer clothes and idiomatic terms that were translated in footnotes.

The most bizarre thing about the books is that I would have thought they’d be used as examples of how not to write, but apparently, if a book makes money, no one cares about the lack of a plot, the lack of clearly defined major characters, the lack of any sort of character arc, the insertion of too many characters that have no point except to pound home the point that the rich, no matter the nationality, are different.

One of the many things I didn’t understand were those footnotes. Though the story was written in English, these people were not actually speaking English in their own homes among their own families, yet the author kept inserting Asian terms in the midst of what should have been Asian people talking in one of the many Asian languages. I didn’t understand why he didn’t just translate those terms as he did the rest of their dialogue and forget the footnotes. Admittedly, there were times they spoke English, and I suppose they would bestrew their English sentences with Asian terms, but I don’t feel like giving the author the benefit of the doubt, especially since he kept inserting himself in the footnotes. I had to look at the footnotes to see what the heck the characters were talking about, which was bad enough, but it was especially jarring to have all that author intervention. Anyone who knows about writing knows that the author should be invisible. A story is a conversation between the reader and the characters, and no author should ever poke his head into the conversation. It disrupts the fictive dream and takes the reader out of the story.

In this case, I don’t suppose it really mattered since there was no real story. Just a lot of rich people doing rich people things.

Luckily, I’m finished with that particular literary non-event and will go on to a completely different book, this one about a middle-aged, middle-class woman in the sandwich generation — caught between raising young children and taking care of aging parents. I’m not sure I’ll be any more into this story than I was into the rich folk saga — both are alien situations that I can’t really identify with. But then, if I only read books about people like me (assuming, of course, there are any books about people like me), there’d be no reason to read because I know about people like me.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive? If you haven’t yet read this book, now is the time to buy since it’s on sale.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

The Reality of the Realty Situation

People find it appalling when I tell them the realtor asked me to leave the house when someone comes to look, but oddly, it doesn’t bother me. As a writer, I understand perfectly.

In the literary world, there is a thing called the “fictive dream.”

heavenFrom a writer’s standpoint, the fictive dream is when the writer forgets the words s/he is writing and instead sees the characters as alive and moving about his/her mind as if in a dream. The more the writer works on the story, sharpening the words and images, the vision becomes “more lucid until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”– John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

From a reader’s standpoint, the fictive dream is when the reader is drawn into the story, so much so that the outside world fades from mind, and they are living the story like in a dream.

A skilled writer knows how to pull readers into the story. Unskilled writers often use various tactics that draw attention to themselves, and those self-aggrandizing elements destroy the fictive dream and catapult reader out of the story.

(I know the fictive dream more from a reader’s POV since I was a reader long before I was a writer, and I often let myself be pulled into the story. I know how to write to keep the dream going, but I have never experienced the writer’s fictive dream. Writing for me is more of a slog than a dream — I have to pull the story out of the slushpile I call my mind, one word at a time.)

In the real estate world, there is something called the buyer’s dream (and if there isn’t, there should be). Would-be buyers need to imagine themselves in the house, want to dream of their new life in the house they are looking at. If they can imagine it, they will be more inclined to buy. The presence (or near presence) of the person currently living in the house pulls lookers out of the dream, breaking their connection with the house and the real estate agent. This might not be fatal, of course, but it does make sense that buyers need to bond with both the house and agent, and the presence of anyone else breaks that bond.

So far, only one person came to look at the house when I was here. (The rest of the time, I’ve been gone.) With nothing else to do, I sat on the small wall dividing this property from the next, and basked. Scents of new blossoms drifted to me on quickening air currents, as did the sounds of birds singing in the warm sun.

I don’t often have an excuse to just sit and feel my connection to the world, and lately, I haven’t been creating the excuse.

I’d been dreading this particular phase in my life, having to live pristinely with everything packed out of sight and being at the mercy of lookers and realtors, but it seems as if the reality of the realty situation will have its merits.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.