Some remarks about some things

notes, investigations, digressions galore

Ted Burke

Ted Burke
Location
San Diego, California,
Birthday
July 15
Title
Bookseller, writer, musician
Bio
Bookseller, musician, writer and poet living and working in San Diego, California. His writing has appeared in the San Diego Reader, Kicks, San Diego Door, Roadwork, Revolt in Style,and City Works.His poems have been included in the anthologies Small Rain: 8 poets from San Diego (1996,DG Wills Books),Ocean Hiway: eight poets in San Diego (1981,Wild Mustard Press) , and is the author of many chapbooks, including Hand Grenade, Open Every Window,No One Home and City Times,limited editions published by his own Old House Press.

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MARCH 17, 2012 3:50PM

Why Finish Books? by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

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Why Finish Books? by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books:

'via Blog this'


The problem  of finishing novels, I think, comes from the simple fact that one has read so many of them over time that what one ends up recognizing are not conflicts, emotional complications and dramatic consequences but rather plot formulas.  Sad was the day when I had to admit that I could predict more often than not where a novel was going once I crossed the threshold of a novel's middle chapters;  a number of things were set in such a way, in such an arrangement of social types and temperament that there were only a thin selection of things the author could do with his resolutions. 


He would other wise risk ruining the  comforting elegance of the template he  selected; although most readers protest that they do not want to know how novels end before they read them, they have, none the less, that the mainstream novels they read conclude in a particular way. Not getting the ending they  expect amounts  to a betrayal in their view.  


I had for years worked as a bookseller with a speciality in literary fiction and maintained a regimen of read 4-6 books a week in order to be able to make informed recommendations to customers;  after awhile I found myself power skimming, allowing my eyes to skip or elide over whole chunks of  thick expository prose in order to finish the book. 


I  stopped reading so many books at once and these days I finish only two of every five books I start; I consider the ones I lay down forever as  not having passed the audition. The dilemma, I think, comes from writers who have all learned craft and techniques from the classroom. The writers I happen to like, love, admire were outside the academy, perfecting  their art in the small hours between the hackwork needed to make rent and  have regular meals.  Everyone learns irony and tragedy from the same set of course notes. That stops being true novel writing . It is instead a species  of   examples illustrating a principle. I  have no real desire to attend the same lesson plan again and again. 

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