Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good clean writing

From this morning's Wall Street Journal review of "The Outlaw Album", a new collection of short stories by Daniel Woodrell:

Mr. Woodrell encourages readers to discern the blurred outlines of possible motives beneath official facts, and his stories often seem like palimpsests, with the deeds of generations overlapping. The author's gaze is unflinching, whether surveying a trapped farm animal ("the cow screams at me again with those eyes") or a stabbed man's final moments ("the kid's bare feet were slapping the wood floor, slapping down hard like he was clambering to the crest of a hill that wasn't there"). Such stories are not for the squeamish, but in the classical sense they evoke terror and, after a while, pity too.

The Journal's guy on genre fiction is Tom Nolan, who wrote a biography of Ross MacDonald.

In the meantime, for those who look elsewhere for their comforts, Bloomsbury in the UK has released about seventy-five books electronically, mostly all quiet fiction published in the forties and fifties, under the name of Bloomsbury Readers. Half a dozen books by Ivy Compton Burnett and a bunch by V.S. Pritchett, Monica Dickens, Rose Macaulay, and mysteries by H.R.F. Keating.


David Chute said...

I don't think all people read for "comfort." At least not always.

David Chute said...

Or maybe the flavors that seems harsh to you are part of the pleasure for others. Cf bourbon, hot sauce, etc.

Tulkinghorn said...

Not always is the key. I believe, however, that the pleasures of good clean prose are very comfortable. I certainly wouldn't call them harsh, or think of their readers as especially tough.

David Chute said...

Who said tough? That may be your assumption.

Tulkinghorn said...

When one refers to people who gladly endure harsh conditions as "tough", one is generally understood.