shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass

8.07.2004

it's a book, book world

There's a passel of good pieces in this week's WP Book World.

Starting with Maud Newton's provocative look at William Lychack's first novel The Wasp Eater, and including Jennifer Howard's buzzkill squib about the Nicholson Baker hoo-hah (Note to Book World web editor: you do know you're still accidentally giving bylines to "By Rage and Nicholson Baker," right? My favorite was "By A Case of Rape.") and Michael Dirda's review of Borges: A Life.

Maud's review starts off with the best description of a certain trim, realistic kind of prose I've ever seen:

Spare, realistic prose at its best evokes what's not there. Say what you will about Hemingway, but as he leads me down a path, through trees, in wartime, I know what his characters want and feel, even if it's not spelled out.

Many contemporary purveyors of unadorned realism lack that skill. They seem to embrace spare prose for its own sake, regardless of whether it suits their stories. They take up the mantle of Raymond Carver, Russell Banks and Richard Ford, but too often their fiction can't quite carry it. The results are lean but unsatisfying novels -- elliptical stories focused on the minutiae of everyday life and lacking emotional impact.


Go enjoy. I love it when the net makes Sunday morning things into Saturday morning things. And I'm only just slightly headachey from too much wine with friends last night, and the best leftover pad thai in the world will fix that at lunch. For now, it's coffee and newspaper screen.

worm "Super Freak," Rick James

namecheck Ellen "The Dark" Datlow

2 Comments:

  • At 7:08 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

    Don't get me started on the "A Case of Rape" byline, because a) not only was it extraordinarily bizarre, but b) it meant that it caused me undue worry that my review didn't actually run that week like I had been told. Then I realized what happened. Ah, WaPo web monkeys...endless amusement.

     
  • At 8:22 AM , Blogger gwenda said...

    I'd completely forgotten that one was for you. It just seems so lazy that they haven't fixed it yet.

     

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