Saturday, February 06, 2010

Inspiration

The nonfiction book I'm reading at the moment isn't really grabbing me. It's interesting at times...but it just isn't quite as, umm, engaging as I'd been expecting. So no real inspiration from that. There was a glimmer of something as I read this morning that reminded me of a story I started some years ago and abandoned, as if perhaps the information here might give me a good way to continue the story. If that's the case, as I keep reading this section of the book, then maybe I'll discuss that next week.

I did, however, just finish Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Behind the times, I know--it's been on my to-read list almost since it came out (definitely since before it was an Oprah book and before I'd heard any rumor of it being turned into a movie), and I just finally got around to getting my hands on a library copy. It, like the nonfiction book I'm reading, was one that I'd brought as possible book club books last week.

Others have said so much about the book (and movie) that I don't feel any need to add anything to general discussions about the book, but I guess what was inspiring was the voice. The spare, bleak tone fits the mood and storyline of the book so well--the way the man is just "the man" and the boy unnamed as well, the imagistic fragments of their journey. I think those of us who identify as genre writers and genre fans have a tendency to privilege so-called transparent prose in a way that can sometimes bleed writing of voice. McCarthy is not writing baroque, lush prose by any means, but he still creates his voice in a way that, well that I think we're often afraid of. I can certainly think of works firmly considered genre that break from that tendency and have strong, distinctive voices, but the shying away from such an approach seems to underlie many discussions on writer forums and reader forums.

So that's my nugget of inspiration this week--we talk of each writer having a unique voice, and that's true in a sense, but each work has its own voice as well, one that needs to work with the thematic and story elements to build the story into a cohesive whole.

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