Spoiled Again!!!

When is a spoiler not a spoiler?

Maybe when it’s in the title of a book?

Moving on from The Satanic Verses I’ve started reading Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera. Now THERE’S a title that gives us a very good idea of what the book is about, and I’m tempted to say it gives enough away to TECHNICALLY be a spoiler, but I have to admit it was the title that drew my attention. It suggested the book dealt with a topic that interested me.

The blurb confirms and expands upon the title – that the story is about an average teenage boy who ends up in Guantanamo Bay – prisoner of the Bush administration, after being snatched away from the other side of the world. More “spoilers”!

I have to wonder, if I’d been able to start the book with absolutely NO preconceptions, how different would the reading experience be? I suspect the whole shocking effect of the story would be increased if the boy’s kidnapping and transportation was unexpected.

But that’s the nature of the publishing beast today – and also the nature of the reader. There are so many books competing for our attention that we want to have some idea of what a book is about before we commit to it.

Where is the delicate balance between giving the consumer enough information to make them want to “invest” money and time, and literally spoiling their enjoyment by giving too much away.

Several years ago I found the the film The Sixth Sense was a big disppointment. A friend had told me how good the film was – especially the twist at the end. However, before I saw the film several things came together to spoil that ending. Firstly there was the knowledge that there WAS a twist. Secondly I read a review that described the opeining scenes of the film, but the final piece of the spoiler jigsaw was in the movie trailer’s famous line, “I see dead people”.

So even before I entered the cinema I had worked out the probable ending and everything I saw throughout the film confirmed my expectations.

But I seem to be in the minority these days.  Promoters now think nothing of giving away important plot points in their advertising and it’s becoming more and more difficult to enjoy a story (in book or film) without already knowing what to expect. See a movie trailer and you’ve more or less seen the movie. Read the blurb and you’ve read half of the book.

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8 Responses to Spoiled Again!!!

  1. silverneurotic says:

    I sometimes find that when I don’t know anything about a book prior to reading it, I kind of feel disorientated. It’s strange. I’m also less willing to pick up a book (or watch a movie) unless I have some background on it because I worry about investing precious time into something I’m running into blind. At least with a blurb I have some kind of gauge as to whether it may be something I’d enjoy.

    • Onesimus says:

      Yes, that’s the balancing act – being told enough to assure us of a book/film’s appeal, but not enough to spoil any surprises. Maybe not so much of an issue if we are familiar with someone’s earlier work and we liked it enough to trust them with another of their books/films.

      • Onesimus says:

        My ordered copy of Ghana Must Go arrived yesterday. It’s next on my list to read as soon as I’ve finished the book I’m reading now.
        I’m resisting the temptation to read the blurb so I can enter the book in complete ignorance.

      • Onesimus says:

        I’m halfway through Ghana Must Go. I found it difficult to follow at first but the further I read the more I’m enjoying it.

    • Onesimus says:

      I suppose the “ideal” situation is to read a book on the recommendation of someone you trust, relying on their word rather than on a synopsis of the book’s content.

  2. Marleen says:

    You might like: GHANA MUST GO by Taiye Selasi. I’d link to an interview, but I’d like to know what you think without any other clue than the title. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

    • Onesimus says:

      Thanks Marleen, I’ll try to track it down and I’ll also try not to read any “spoilers”.

      I’ve now finished Guantanamo Boy and highly recommend it. Strangely enough, reading about Guantanamo gave me insight into so much about the attitude of the average German during WWII.

      Americans stayed mostly silent and accepting of Guantanamo and the other atrocities that were carried out “to protect freedom”: only a step or two away from being willing to turn a blind eye to work camps and death camps.

      Interesting that most of it was carried out away from Amercian soil – just as some of the worst death camps in WWII were located away from German soil.

    • Onesimus says:

      I found the book and have added it to the wishlist on my Book Depository account.

      UPDATE: I’ve now ordered a copy and should receive it in a week or two.

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