Dennis Lehane again teaches us the lesson:
In the Boston neighborhood where I grew up, people talked vividly. Lots of f-bombs, lots of italicizing, lots of words purposefully dropped from a sentence because they got in the way of the meaning or the punch line. To grow up around such wonderful, profane, exuberant dialogue is to have a found poem dropped in your lap every day before you've even finished the walk to school. So, when I began my apprenticeship as a writer, the only gift I brought to the table was an ear for dialogue bequeathed to me by constant exposure to Olympian-level talkers. That's given me a lifelong love of colorful gab, both as a reader and writer.Dialog trumps story -- Always thought that myself (see I. Compton-Burnett), and am glad to see Lehane admitting that the rule of simplicity is just begging to be broken.
In Richard Price's urban masterpiece, "Clockers," two New Jersey cops sit in the bowels of a housing development and tell stories to each other. The scene goes on for pages and, in truth, adds little to the overall plot. But the dialogue is so pitch-perfect an urban symphony, and so hilarious, that it effortlessly crosses the transom of the utilitarian standard and transcends any rules that would box it out of a novel. If everyone could write dialogue as gutter-gorgeous as Mr. Price, they could write a hundred pages before any reader started asking if a story was going to appear anytime soon.