Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkeys and Pies

Post by Jenny

I feel sorry for turkeys, and not only for the obvious reason this time of year. I know the poor things are not the smartest or friendliest fowl in the global flock, but they really are splendid-looking creatures. Benjamin Franklin, well-known champion of this American icon, wrote in a letter to his daughter, “For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird [than the bald eagle], and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

But the big reason I feel sorry for turkeys is because of the negative meanings now associated with their name. Dictionary.com lists the slang definitions of ‘turkey’ as follows:

a. a person or thing of little appeal; dud; loser.
b. a naive, stupid, or inept person.
c. a poor and unsuccessful theatrical production; flop.

With apologies to the actual birds, I’m wondering…did you read any books this year that you would classify as turkeys? If so, what did you, as a writer, learn from them? I am two-thirds of the way through the biggest turkey I’ve read in a while. In the spirit of mothers everywhere who have admonished their children that if they “can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” I won’t mention it by title. I’ll only say that it is the second book in a wildly successful series. It has earned ‘turkey’ status in my mind because the first 250 pages could easily have been condensed down into a mere hundred. I could feel myself aging as I slogged through them. It was only in the name of masochistic curiosity that I continued reading. The writing lesson I have taken away from it is, “Good gravy, get to the point already!”

Now, on to sweeter things. Pumpkin is my seasonal pie of choice. (It is thought that the colonists’ original dessert was not a pie but a hollowed-out pumpkin filled with milk, spices, and honey, then baked in an open fire.) I also love pecan and anything using the fall fruits of apple, pear, and cranberry.

Good books are like dessert because they are worth savoring. One of my favorites this year was The Help. It’s a great example of how multiple points of view can add so much depth to a story. What books have you enjoyed digging into recently?

Best wishes for a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

3 comments:

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I never thought about what the slang dictionary has done to the poor turkey’s reputation.

I have read a turkey this year, but I must be the only one who disliked it. It seemed as if every other person at the airport book store was buying it last week and it continues to be on the Times best seller list. I won’t be reading the others in the series.

Having some time off recently, I finally read and thoroughly enjoyed “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave , “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and am currently reading Jodi Picoult’s “House Rules.”

Patricia Stoltey said...

I picked up a couple of turkeys this year, but I no longer try to finish books that don't grab me within the first 50 pages. Life is too short.

Pie...I used to make a cranberry chiffon pie and a pumpkin chiffon pie, both with graham cracker crusts that were awesome. I need to pull those recipes out and give them another try.

Jenny said...

Jane, I often feel as though I'm the only one who doesn't like certain bestsellers. Maybe I'm too picky...?

Pat, both those pies sound fantastic!

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