Last night I settled down with two literary novels and after about 30 minutes on each, decided that neither one was for me. I thought you might be interested in how one reviewer makes decisions.
The first had a nice cover that looked like a trade paperback. On the back, it was clear they were putting a lot of effort into the book - a tour, a large number for the announced first printing, freqently reminders that this was the author of "Really Popular Book 10 Years Ago." [No mention of last book, which got mixed or worse reviews, and which seemed to mostly perplex reviewers.] The story line is about two men's friendship, traced from 1972 to now. The more interesting character was not the narrator, but his friend, who becomes like a Bill Gates/recluse. I'm not sure how much the plot reflects The Great Gatsby, but it reminded me of it.
Why did I give it up? There didn't seem to be a story question for the narrator. Plus there was a lot of debate about "gnostics" and away from the computer, I wasn't even sure what that meant. [Full disclosure: no wonder, Wikipedia reveals "Gnosticism (Greek: γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge) refers to a diverse, syncretistic religious movement consisting of various belief systems generally united in the teaching that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect spirit, the demiurge, who is frequently identified with the Abrahamic God." OOOOkay.]
The second had a plain pink cover. Underneath was a copy of the dust jacket, with an eye-catching image. It's about a family dealing with an 11 year old girl who has chosen to be mute. At first there were chapters from the mom's POV, then the dad's, then the kid's. The 11 yo didn't ring true to me at all (my kid is just a year older - jacket flap copy reveals author probably not to be a parent) but I decided to keep on. But then it started switching POV every few paragraphs. I would be reading along, thinking I was in the mom's head, then halfway through a paragraph, I would realize it was the dad's or the kid's. I would have to re-read the paragraph (there were no ## or space breaks to mark the change) to put myself in the right head, and then three paragaphs later, it would happen again.
So I bagged it.
Just watch - both will go on to be best sellers.