Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief – Lawrence Wright (2013) (DNF)


After having read and loved Janet Reitman’s non-fiction book on Scientology (see link below), I was really interested to see that another investigative journalistic book called “Going Clear” also about this provocative belief system was available at the library and I whisked it off the shelf as quickly as I could. It seemed to check all my interest boxes: religious thought, Pulitzer Prize winner writer, interesting/provocative subject, celebrity, public relations/influence etc…

And at first, it was quite ok. The subject was fascinating, but as page followed page (right up to when I finally resigned from reading it on page 158), the writing style seemed to bug me. However, it was hard to pin down what, exactly, it was that was annoying until it hit me: this Pulitzer Prize winning writer used the same sentence structure and the same average sentence length (about 15 words) for almost EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE in every single paragraph. Oh. My God. It was painful to read despite the riveting topic.

Now, I must admit that I haven’t read the work for which Wright was awarded the Pulitzer (The Looming Towers), but perhaps that was written in a different style. Obviously someone liked it enough to get that award, and someone liked this book enough to make it a finalist in the National Book Award event. But that someone wasn’t me. This book seemed to have been written by a computer, perhaps, or maybe an intern. The information itself was great, but how it was presented was repetitive and boring: “In the morning, Dick and Jane went to the park and saw the ducks. The ducks were hungry and the children fed them bread that they had got from home in the village…” Subject, verb, object with the same length of sentences. It was like reading a freshman composition essay in college.

Tons of information was included – so much that it seemed padded at times, and oh – did I mention the repetitive sentence structure and length?…

I was really disappointed as I was looking forward to reading some more about L. Rob Hubbard et al as I think he’s a fascinating topic in his own special way. (Compare this read with another book that I’ve read on Scientology: Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman).

If you’re going to read a balanced well-written non-fiction book on scientology, I would highly recommend the Reitman book. The Wright one will have you doing facepalms due to its elementary writing style.

4 thoughts on “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief – Lawrence Wright (2013) (DNF)

    • Don’t blame you. If you are picky about good writing, you will not enjoy this read. I wish it had been better – the info was good (for the most part). Oh well. Onward and upward. 🙂

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