Most succinct movie review of the month from Slate:
The Time Traveler's Wife
I wish I could travel back to a time when I hadn't seen this movie.
To read or not to read?
Came across an interesting discussion on Tor. com Apparently science fiction writers Orson Scott Card and John C. Wright have said some pretty negative things about homosexuality. Some readers wrote that they will no longer read anything by these two men while others say that personal opinions shouldn't stop you from enjoying a writer's fiction.
How about you? Should a writer's private beliefs matter to readers?
Storytellers and wordsmiths
Patti Abbott posted a thoughtful piece on different kinds of writers--those who tell stories and don't generally concern themselves with careful choices of words etc. and those to whom each word is a matter of serious concern.
I started to post a response but then realized that what I was in the process of saying didn't make sense (that's never stopped me before of course).
After a day of thinking about the distinction Patti makes I'd say that I'd split the difference. To me if you're writing a story then the story is the utmost concern. But I do come across stories and novels so badly written I have to give them up. But I think there are storytellers who are also excellent stylists. Don Westlake was certainly an example. He was a master of story and a master of language as well. I've also said that nobody in crime fiction writes better sentences than Lawrence Block. He has many imitators, none successful. Ray Bradbury was quoted once as saying that he'd take apart a Theodore Sturgeon story just to see how anybody could write with such energy and grace. I know what he means. Thirty years ago I went to school on a Larry Block novel. I could see how the plot was put together; how he stage managed the scenes and so on. But what I couldn't get at all was how he concocted those sentences. Block writes with a clarity I find in nobody else. But then there are the rhythms of the phrases and the richness of the psychology and the ongoing urgency of the story. I would say that Westlake and Block are both storytellers and wordsmiths.
By coincidence I reviewed Megan Abbot's Bury Me Deep this weekend. Now here is a perfect marriage of story and style. I consider it genuine literature, so much so that when I see some of the kudos some writers get I wonder if the reviewer has ever read Megan Abbott. The imagery, the cadences of the language, the almost brazen use of backstory in the age of speed demon novels--this book was written with almost painful precision. Now I know the Edgar committee is hanging on my every word so let me say i here--I can't imagine there'll be a better novel published this year.
On the other hand, I find a lot of wordsmiths bores and boors. I guess I'm too old to appreciate stories that aren't stories. I don't mean that stories have to follow the old pulp patterns. But I see enough literary magazines to know that some awfully good writers of words are awfully bad tellers of tales. Rather than letting language free them, it seems to trap them so that the words become self-conscious. Every other sentence the writer expects a round of applause. That's the feeling I get anyway. To be fair, let me say that last week I read a collection of literary stories by undergraduates and was stunned and moved (and envious) by just about every one of them. With young men and women like this coming up American literature has nothing to fear.
So to conclude I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not sure storyteller and wordsmith are so equally divisible. Questions?