“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On The Triviality Of Perfect Writing

I had an interview with Conor Fitzgerald (right), the author of THE NAMESAKE, published in the Evening Herald over the weekend, which reminded me of how easy it can be to misinterpret a writer’s intentions.
  An Irishman living in Italy, Conor Fitzgerald sets his novels in Rome, with an American-born police detective, Alec Blume, for his protagonist.
  The quality of his prose is one the many reasons I enjoy Conor Fitzgerald’s books, and it’s understandable that Fitzgerald - son of the poet Seamus Deane, and a former translator of James Joyce’s work - might be more careful than most when it comes to crafting a sentence, given the layered intricacy of the ‘Irishman writes American-born character in Rome’ set-up. When I suggested as much, however, I got this response:
“I try not to be over-careful,” he says, “because I see danger in it. If you get to perfect writing of a sort, it becomes trivial. A good example is someone I like, and know, Julian Barnes.”
  Julian Barnes, of course, won the Booker Prize in 2011.
  “He writes exquisite sentences, one after the other after the other, and at the end ...” He tails off with a shrug. “And then, when you go back to your real classics, your Dickens or Dostoevsky, they’re a mess. Bad sentences and careless plotting and dubious characters and improbable coincidences -- and that’s when you realise that the really, really great books are full of flaws, and the really perfect little ones are quite often forgettable. I mean, Ian McEwan -- all he can do is write sentences.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here.
  For a short review of THE NAMESAKE, clickety-click here.

2 comments:

DirtRoadFilms said...

This is a very profound comment. And true.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Ooooh, I like it. Dare to be flawed.