A Novel Novel Idea

July 12th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We like to view novel writing much in the way we view mountain ranges — things change in such a way that you don’t necessarily realize it happens. Then there’s the occasional strip mining — where the landscape changes dramatically and sometimes forever. There is something in the artist’s mind that latches onto ideas and refuses to let go. Sometimes these are the worst possible ideas (we believe Jackson Pollack was a victim of this). Authors, too, fall prey to gimmicky writing; we must only look the Suttree, voted “Our Worst Read Ever” by our bookclub. It was so unreadable that only one member (that would be us) slogged through to the very end — we were determined to understand why this particular book was considered so good. We remain clueless, though we did write a very nice essay on the topic (we do so love writing essays; such a lovely way to clear the cobwebs from our mind). All of this is our way of say we agree with Robert McCrum: innovation is fine, but if the result is unreadable, exactly what has been proven? If your reader spends more time trying to figure out what in hell’s going on than enjoying your story, you’ve probably lost a reader.

File Under: Square Pegs