Normally I try not to be too...grumpy...with regards to books. Every author has their own style, and when I don't really like a particular style, I at least try to find something good, something to appreciate.
Currently I'm reading a book called Black Hills by Dan Simmons. I've never read any of his books before, nor do I know really much about the author. The premise however, sounded very interesting so I picked it up. If you haven't read this book and/or are going to, you may wish to avoid the rest of this post since I will probably spoil parts of it for you.
This story (at least so far) is about an American Indian (or is it more PC to say Native American?) who was at Custer's Last Stand as a young brave. He comes upon Custer's dead body and (after touching it) feels invaded by Custer's ghost.
From here, the story bounces back and forth from the character's young life to much later moments in his life as well as different points in between. For the most part, the inclusion of Lakota (Sioux) culture, language, and background is well written. While I can't vouch for the accuracy of the transliteration of the language, I assume it's correct - and there's plenty of it throughout the book.
What do I have to rant about then? Well, for some reason the author portrays Custer (and his wife) as extreme sexual deviants, for one. The story will break from time to time and become a letter from Custer to his wife, in which he talks about various things. By today's standards (depending on who you are of course), their sexual proclivities might not be deviant at all. But for a celebrated general just after the Civil War, the open discussion of oral sex (while his regiment marches by, no less) seems a bit of a stretch. In fact, the author goes to great lengths to describe how often and varied Custer's sexual romps are with his spouse.
One thing I've said many times is no matter who you are or what genre you write in, you have to keep the writing real. You have to keep it honest. I'm also not naive enough to think that sexual discovery wasn't invented until the 1960's. But I find it highly doubtful that such things were discussed openly during the "Wild West" among individuals who were at the higher end of the social scale.
The author has just about lost me as a reader, thanks to these sexual diversions that add nothing to the main story. I've found myself skimming (or even skipping) whole sections where Custer's letters appear just because I have no interest in participating in such idiotic notions. The worst part is that there is so many interesting things about Custer the author could have included rather than making up crap like this. It's too bad really, because it's obvious that alot of effort was put into immersing the reader in the culture of the time from an American Indian's perspective.
I pose the question to you, my faithful followers. I've kept from getting too descriptive about what's going on (mostly because it's rude and I don't wish to offend anyone), but what do you think about books that do this kind of thing? If anyone knows more about Custer's personal life, am I wrong here? Were people more open during this period of time than I am giving them credit for? The comment box is now open.