Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Puddle Variations

Huhh, you said. My good blogging buddy Jeff Alworth has written a novel by that title and he'll even tell you how to buy it and a little about it. My copy arrived today and I've gotten 35 pages into it, Portland OR, a cabbie, some women, some different sorts, Portland OR, and a movie and some more. I don't have a tag to hang it under other than current day fiction. I'm enjoying it so far, other than knowing the author.

If you don't get that part, I don't blame you. I like Jeff so I'm stuck wanting to like it, the problem is that I'm very literate and I'm a pretty harsh judge of literature. I'll give you an example of how harsh, I think Michner's 'Tales of the South Pacific' is one of the great pieces of writing of the 20th Century, it's also the last good thing he ever did, from there he headed downhill farther and farther with every book. Wordy over long dreadfully detailed descriptions padded stories into behemoths of books. How's that for a take on a real popular author? Poor Jeff. Nah.

I can already tell you that there is an economy of styling and language and protagonist is well drawn and developing over time without the irritation of the author doing all the work and leaving me just reading words. Portlanders may be a bit miffed, well really, you do have some coming. When I'm done, I'll tell you about that, until then if I've whetted your interest that's good. Authors are a good thing to have around.


Jeff Alworth said...

You are a gentleman and a scholar. I was hoping to write a novel that could be judged against the standards of good fiction, so don't dull your keen reading eye.

Writers don't often agree with this (in my experience), but writing is an art of co-creation. It's necessarily a dialogue. The author brings to it all the books s/he's read and admired, understands the context its written in (time, place, genre, etc), and absolutely relies on the reader to bring that same knowledge to the book. It's an evolving, growing medium, and exists collaboratively.

The most important thing to writers is readers--so thanks!

Carla said...

Not having ever seen Jeff Alworth's novel (ahem), I can't put it against a baseline of any other work, much less Michener.

That said, I found Centennial a much more entertaining and readable work. And if you haven't read "The Source", it's a great example of Michener's storytelling gift as well.

Chuck Butcher said...

At one point, Michner's stuff was literary art, the voice, the cadence, the intensity were art, storytelling is another thing altogether. Not that it isn't an admirable quality to have, but it isn't art. The ability to create a poem quality within the story form and to meld the reader and the author together is beyond storytelling.

Now that is certainly an opinion rather than a fact, but I believe I have good ground to stand on. I believe that an author needs to give me a framework to hang my skin upon, so that my experience of his work is individual to me, I play an active part in story. The author certainly needs to give me enough detail to allow suspension of disbelief, but my imagination should be required.