QUADRIVIUM

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Posts Tagged ‘Books

What’s wrong with the modern novel?

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Two bloggers at the Telegraph decide to take on that question (H/T: Breakpoint). 

You can read a lot of novels nowadays that are perfectly good – there’s nothing particularly wrong with them. But there’s also nothing particularly right with them, either.

[…]

I’d still probably slog through 500 pages of hype-inflated, prize-laden pretentiousness about a lesbian commune in 1930s Cork than the stuff that really sells today: Brown and Meyer. Have you any idea why they do so well? I’m not against bestsellers by any means: Stephen King can write, or so I thought when I last read him, i.e. at about the age of 15. But, dear Lord, surely even during the wrong-headed fug of adolescence I wouldn’t have fallen for The Da Vinci Code or Twilight.

Fair enough.  I won’t argue at all about the merits of Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer.  If you look at the quality of writing between, say, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, and The Firm by John Grisham, there’s a measureable difference. 

Still, certain bestselling authors, like Orson Scott Card or J. K. Rowling, have managed to move me at least as much the sophisticated literary work of, say, Cormac McCarthy.   Even some of Stephen King’s prose manages to rise above the junk food metaphors critics typically wield to strike him down. 

There’s something Anton Ego says at the end of Ratatouille.  “The bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”  So I had to smile when one of the Telegraph bloggers manages a refreshing moment of honesty:

I suppose in the end though it’s the height of idleness to complain about the standard of modern novels – after all, if I dislike them so much, there’s nothing to stop me writing one of my own. The trouble with doing that, of course, is that I would soon discover that novelists have a far harder job than I’ve given them credit for in this discussion, and so I’d have to relinquish my sniping prejudices and admit that the current lot – Christ, perhaps even Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer – aren’t so bad after all. And there’s nothing that horrifies a blogger more than the thought of having to relinquish his sniping prejudices. Hell, they’re all we’ve got.

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Written by taj

August 11, 2010 at 11:13 am

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In keeping with the habit of only writing on Mondays…

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…here are a few random thoughts that have percolated over the last week:

–Been listening to the original cast recording of Les Miserables.  If Hollywood can produce big screen versions of Rent, Chicago and Nine, it’s time somebody brought Les Mis to the screen.  So long as they cast Timothy Spall as Thinardier. 

–ABC really ought to release The Path to 9/11 on DVD. 

Amerika could use a decent DVD package as well.  I’ve never seen it, and I’d like a chance to.

–I really wanted to do a write-up on Avatar (the more I think about it, the more I think conservative film critics have missed something), however, some paying writing gigs have come up, and paying the bills comes first.  For the time being, read this

Lost‘s final season begins tomorrow. 

The Killer Angles is one helluva novel.

Written by taj

February 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Novelties

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Alien_FosterWhile film novelizations tend to sit in the realm of the literary gutter, a small handful have managed transcend the stigma.  Most notably is Orson Scott Card’s, The Abyss.  Lesser known, however, is Alan Dean Foster’s riff on the original Alien

Finding a copy of either one of these is a challenge — novelizations on average will only see one printing before they wind up on a rack inside a used book store.  But I spotted a copy of Alien sitting in the window of one this week. 

I snagged it for a buck fifty.

Written by taj

September 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Book Review: The Templar Lagacy by Steve Berry

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TemplarLegacyWritten in 2006, The Templar Legacy joined a growing glut of Templar stories.  Once again the narrative takes on the myth of those legendary knights and the secrets they protected.  Once again, the effort subverts Christian tradition.  Readers offended by The Da Vinci Code beware—Steve Berry’s novel is both more subversive, and a slightly better read. 

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Written by taj

August 13, 2009 at 6:00 am

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Lunatics

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“A lunatic is easily recognized. He is a moron who doesn’t know the ropes. The moron proves his thesis; he has a logic, however twisted it may be. The lunatic, on the other hand, doesn’t concern himself at all with logic; he works by short circuits. For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.”

Umberto EcoFoucault’s Pendulum

Written by taj

August 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm