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The L word

So I am reading White is for Witching. Cool Title. Cool cover. And yet I'm feeling a healthy dose of "huh?" as I read. I'm not one to read the cover copy of a library book. If there's something I like about it, I grab it and start right in. I'm assured of no spoilers that way. But the review quote from the back, "Helen Oyeyemi is a startling literary prodigy," from the Washington Post offers a clue as to my "huh?"ness.

I think it's that pesky "literary" thing.

I'm a fairly close reader, but I never know who's talking. And why sentences stop and start at random. And why some paragraphs aren't indented.

And then, as someone who used to put safety pins in her face and spike her hair up with Knox gelatin, I'm dismayed that I even give a shit about where sentences or paragraphs start or who's talking.

It starts out with a crazy twin sister and a gunned down mother. So it's good subject matter. But the form...what's the deal with the form? I intend to keep going. Either I'll eventually understand this stopping/starting wherever technique or I'll decide it's all a big put-on.

Because I think it takes a hell of a lot of effort to make your writing transparent and easily understood. It takes a lot of effort to make it disappear so your story can play like a film reel in readers' heads. Or maybe I just can't figure out how anyone went about line editing this thing.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 25th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
It doesn't sound like anything I'd want to line edit, if that's the style the book is written in. There's artistic, and then there's making sense. Now that I've been editing for a while, I mentally critique all the fiction I read for readability. It's fine if I can figure out words from context, like in Sarah Monette's Melusine series. On the other hand, sentences starting with participles jolt me out of a story like you wouldn't believe. I've seen a lot of sentence structures I just want to rewrite altogether.
Nov. 28th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
I can't figure out how the line editors handled it. They must have just marked everything up and the author had a thick skin about her "I meant to do that" refusal of changes.

It's a very nifty story once I get past the nontraditional weirdness. I'll need to decide later if the strangeness adds or detracts.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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