Monday, August 14, 2006

The need for perfect pitch ...

... in fiction: Getting Voice Right.


  1. Except that if you read farther into the original post, you learn the fellow is in his mid-30s and hasn't read Huckleberry Finn. Ever. But judges contests and stuff, and he feels perfectly capable of pontificating about Twain's use of voice after a page or two.

    I submit this is part of the fix we're in, and nobody's mentioning it.

  2. Well, it's not as if he hides the fact from us. And I would submit that the point is either well-taken or not, irrespective of whether he read the book a decade ago or yesterday. I agree with the point because, having reviewed books for 40 years, I think I can say that few things are more jarring than a work told in a voice that proves to be inconsistent in tone.
    I also agree that there is more pontificating going in than we need, but reporting on your reaction to something you're reading seems fine to me.

  3. Reporting on a reaction, yes: if I just discover Klinkenborg, say, and decide he's awful, that's one thing. But this is a guy who's got a career in the lit biz and is just waking up to Huckleberry Finn and Great Expectations? I could see prefacing that with a sort of mea culpa, gee, how did I loaf through school and not read these, but that's not what he's doing. He's announced that he's now read them, and they're great!! Examples to us all!! (Didn't Mrs. Thwackem tell us that in the ninth grade? Oh, right, he skipped those classes. . .)

    In other words, you can be an ignorant fellow, but if you're a big enough narcissist, that makes up for it.

  4. I don't care when he read them, or whether he was standing on his head whistling Dixie.

    I like his take on literature! He's not a snob!

  5. Ah, Bonnie, how typical of you to cut through the cant! God bless you!