Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo: George Saunders wrote a fine book that could have also been a fine short story but was a fine book afterall

Image result for "Lincoln in the bardo" cover

George Saunders's Booker Prize-winning book Lincoln in the Bardo is a powerfully good book. One of my favorite reads this year by far. 

The unique structure and the chops it took for Saunders to write so well and so distinctly in so many different voices while still maintaining the narrative was nothing short of miraculous. 

It had more funny moments than poignant, though, in case you've heard otherwise. Most of the heart of the book was in sections that went deeply into Abe Lincoln. It may sound strange, but Saunders, I think, invoked Day-Lewis's performance in Lincoln with those sections. They just felt dead on perfect. 

Now, although I loved that Saunders basically invented a new form to write this book, I will say that it did also up the page count, an important consideration for a short story writer's first attempt at a novel. With this in mind, I believe whole-heartedly that this novel could have worked, and worked better, as a longish short story. There's a lot of of open space on each page due to the breaks. Take out those breaks and you've got what most people would consider more of a novella, probably. I'm not sure. 

All in all, read this book. I don't really care if he was fluffing with breaks for length or not. It doesn't matter. The book still works beautifully and deserves the Booker, something I wasn't convinced of before reading it, to be perfectly honest. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

China Miéville might try too hard to not be understood

Image result for "Three Moments of an Explosion"I liked some of the stories in Three Moments of an Explosion, such as the story "A Second Slice Manifesto," but, most of the time, I found myself looking to see how many more pages I had until the next story. I always read collections straight through. I know if I don't then I'll never go back and read the ones that were too long or slow to get started, etc. 

In this book, I felt like Miéville tried too hard too often to be, I don't know, obscure in what he was giving the reader. It was like he used this technique we all know as writers how to use but just went way beyond what was needed. Some stories were insanely frustrating because of this. "The Design" comes immediately to mind. 

All in all I suspect he's a better novelist than a short story writer. If I read another of his it'll be Kraken I think. But it might be awhile. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Some Really Solid Writing Advice

Putting this here for remembering, but also because it may strike some of you in the same way it struck me. From the film Rebel in the Rye:

A scene with Salinger and his guru. It begins with a back and forth that may be the best explanation of why to write I've ever heard.

Salinger: I'm afraid I've lost my talent.

Guru: Do you write to show off your talent or to express what is in your heart?

Friday, June 1, 2018

For Yesterday, For Today


    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

                                                                      - Jiddu Krishnamurti 

My story "Go Get Your Honor" republished at Defuncted: A Collection of Abandoned Things

It's a good day, you all. A story of mine, " Go Get Your Honor ", originally published at the long gone Emprise Review, was re...