Hard Wear Listening

I just got back from a trip to the hardware store. It was a strange one, to say the least. I thought I’d just walk in to buy some electrical supplies and return home. Simple enough, right? Wrong. At this particular hardware shop, a young woman was reading from a novel. She also had several other copies of the book for sale, so I assume she was the author. In the middle of this store, this young woman was putting on a grand performance, reading the first few chapters of her book. Except the performance wasn’t grand at all. It was genuinely awful.

She read it well enough, but she must be one of those “self-published” authors because the quality of the content was so unbelievably poor. I think the inconsistency was what bothered me most. In the first scene, the protagonist tells his talking dog that he will be going to a Hampton hardware store. But a few minutes later, the character arrives at the “finest hardware shop Cheltenham has to offer, where he always shopped for his plumbing supplies”. How hard is it to get that right? Did she even proofread this book?

And then there was the love interest. It became immediately obvious that this character was based on the author as a self-insert. The character was described in extreme detail, from her “gorgeous long and brown hair that may have looked boring on another girl, but was somehow beautiful on her” right down to the “birthmark on the back of her wrist that looked remarkably like a saxophone”. Yes, I did see the author’s wrist as she turned to the next page. The birthmark was right there, although I’m not too sure about the similarity to an instrument.

Sometimes a man just wants to buy some electrical supplies, close to Cheltenham or Hampton or otherwise, without being assaulted by terrible prose and horrific narrative pacing. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten that degree in creative writing with a focus on fiction. It’s turned me into a complete literary snob. Perhaps others at the hardware store enjoyed listening to this novel, but I just can’t look past all the issues.

I did buy a copy of Hard Wear, though. Just to see if it gets any better.


It doesn’t.