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July 11, 2007

Comments

crocodile

Ironically - from your point of view, anyway - Banville is a big Sopranos fan.

ed

Additionally, the problem here is that Freeman didn't cite any specific critic making the Dickens comparison in his flimsy article -- thereby self-sabotaging his ridiculous claim from the starting gate.

But what's so wrong with narratives being shaped by different mediums? Graham Greene's novels were inspired by the medium of film -- and one can convincingly argue that it influenced those wonderful colons. So what's wrong with multiple narratives in multiple mediums exactly? By that silly logic, we should tsk-tsk John Banville for having the temerity to be inspired by paintings and even you, Mark, should be taken to task for having the effrontery to offer literary criticism on the Web when every snob knows that it can only be in a print medium.

An interesting article on the subject of novels and other mediums here:

http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?search_term=comic+novel&id=9276

James Marcus

I've never heard anybody suggest that The Sopranos was about to put the novel out of its misery. But if you want a more mindlessly overpraised phenomenon, I've got one right here: the Harry Potter books.

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TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Bs

    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe

    Rider_4

    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."