Thursday, January 29, 2009
In a reading groove
I brought the book home. Now, I can’t put it down. That’s because I want it out of my hands and back in those of the librarian’s. But, first I want to know how it ends.
It’s a struggle to finish because it’s so very badly written. Did the author always write this badly, I wonder. Did he change, or was it me? I’ve already added him to my short list of best-selling authors whom I can’t stand reading.
It’s probably not all his fault. In my formative years, I watched cartoons all Saturday morning. One day in my teens, I asked myself why I wasted Saturday mornings on such moronic fare. On that day, I stopped watching cartoons. Sometime later, I stopped watching situation comedies.
Apparently time changes tastes. Authors I once enjoyed, I won’t read today. In this case, the author tells his story in plain and simple language. His writing lacks style and bores me. Vance has style. His language is elegant, yet pithy. With Vance, it’s not so much about what’s going to happen next, it’s about how he’ll describe it.
When I first picked up a Vance in a Hong Kong bookstore, I assumed he was British. He’s not, but he knows his English. Yet his elegance is fresh, not archaic. Other authors, born in 1916, use styles that are dated. Vance has moved with his times, and yet his writing moves beyond his times.
I wish I wrote like that.
Dave worked domestically in the sewn goods industry, before he became a buyer in Taiwan. He subsequently worked as a mental health clinician, technical writer, computer technician, and graphic designer.
His freelance services include conversion of manuscripts into eBooks, photo retouching, book design and illustration,