Archive for April, 2012

Freedom Overrated

Monday, April 30th, 2012

I recently read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.  As a disclaimer, I note that I loved The Corrections and perhaps that is colouring my views, but I found Freedom to be supremely irritating.  It was filled with characters whose hyper self-awareness bordered on self-obsessed navel-gazing.  In regard to one in particular, the author felt compelled to keep telling us how intelligent and fun people found her since there was no evidence of this on the page itself.  It was not this, however, that spoiled what was otherwise a well-written book.  Nor was it the use of death as an easy out in a complex storyline.  Or the undisciplined wanderings off to tertiary characters I had no interest in, or pages and pages of undisguised didactics.   It was that the one person who was uncritically treated by the author and was rewarded with a happily ever after was a self-mutilating young woman whose life – her every choice, as well as her happiness – revolved completely around a man.  Perhaps it’s just reflecting the vagaries of life, but when every other character suffered life’s usual mix of ups and downs, I couldn’t help feeling like I was being told something I found, well, offensive.


Monday, April 16th, 2012

Oops, wrong movie.

Every writer is familiar with the old adage, “Show don’t tell.”  For those of you less familiar, rather than talking about so-and-so not liking such-and-such, a writer should – or so the adage goes – write the scene that makes apparent why so-and-so ended up not liking such-and-such.  Of course, video excels in showing and not telling but, as in the case of Game of Thrones, distilling 700 pages of 7 point text down to 10 hours of video can be hurdle even if a picture is worth a 1000 words.  The writers (director?) of the video version of the Game of Thrones have come up with an interesting solution.  They recognized that making certain things clear in the miniseries was going to require some old-fashioned telling, but why not do all that telling in a brothel?  Rather than explanation, why not sexplanation?  It has meant that the actress that plays the local prostitute of Winterfell has far greater exposure (sorry, couldn’t help it) than her role in the book would have suggested but all in the name of carrying the story forward.  What I can’t help but wonder is whether the words in these scenes have the audience’s full attention.

If You’re Happy…

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Hand me pen and paper, I'm happy!

If you’re happy (and you know it) do you write more?  This was (essentially) the question that was posed to a group of writers (don’t ask me who since the forum was ages ago).  The interviewer’s bias was clearly that it was more likely that it was the unhappy who wrote: perhaps not commercial, formulaic, genre fiction, but the kind of fiction that was, you know, more than just cheap entertainment.  The interviewer’s bias largely seemed to be borne out by that group of authors – to be truly inspired, you had to be down in the dumps.  I find that unfathomable.  Sure maybe a little sadness, a tinge of nostalgia, a smidgen of sentiment are all good for setting you on the road, but I can’t imagine writing if I were truly down.  I would struggle to get out of bed.  It all puts me in mind of a quote from Bertrand Russell, “Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.”  I did pose this same question to the writers in my writers group and they all uniformly answered the same way: “I write when I am sufficiently disciplined to sit down and just do it.”

Attention All Subscribers

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

To all of you who subscribe, there seems to have been in a glitch in the system of late.  If you haven’t been getting your email alerts regarding new posts, please re-subscribe.  That seems to “re-boot” the system. 

To the rest of you, take this as an opportunity to subscribe so you don’t miss out on the wonderful blogging!