Thursday, April 14, 2011

On contrasting writing styles

I am reading Anne Rice's Of Love and Evil. It's been a few years since I've read her, and this piece is more simply written than I remember her work to be. After reading John Irving's dark complexity this book seems rather one-note though much more optimistic (thankfully.) I had to take a break from his wearisome fatalism. Yes life is peppered with harsh realities, but it is also flooded with light. The tale he tells in A Widow for One Year is a masterpiece of interwoven subtleties and human frailties. I was initially intimidated by the depth of texture. But halfway through I feel beaten down. The hero is mostly a wienie. The heroine is simultaneously selfish and self-hating. Perhaps this will all resolve itself into something more hopeful than what has unfolded so far but that's not at all certain. I could very well reach the end of the book and feel worse than I did halfway through. I'll admire Irving for his finely honed craft, but feel like crap.

In contrast, while Rice's book also deals with the darkness of the human soul, albeit on a one-note level, it is ultimately hopeful.

It is interesting to contrast writing styles, both in the way that they handle the darkness and light of life, and in the handling of how they actually put the story into words.

But that's a topic for another post.

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