Tuesday, November 23, 2010

i do get the sofa

Currently reading Syrup, Maxx Barry's first novel. Recently finished Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm. I'm beginning to realize that the words "hip" and "scathing" and "biting," in conjunction with "funny," are semi-subtle book review codewords for "every character is attractive and witty and sarcastic." Occasionally the protagonist lacks one of those traits, but never more than one.

Not that Syrup or Travel Writers are bad books, mind you. They're both engaging and full of wry observations, and Syrup delves into the marketing industry with smirking enthusiasm. But they're both cinematic to a fault, in that each story is paced like a movie and contemporary Hollywood aesthetics are maintained throughout. It's numbing after a while, and abrasive in the same way that watching Van Wilder was abrasive - none of the "underdogs" are risking anything in terms of social capital. There are real moments in each book where the narrators experience real uncertainty, but those moments don't linger. Which is unfortunate, because it's hard to maintain what's supposed to be a suspenseful, roller-coaster plot if there's no energy in the plummets.

Since I'm editing a novel as we speak, this is all good to keep in mind.

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