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Friday, October 20, 2006

RIP Craving, Prose, and Close Reading

I finished my RIP Challenge some time back, and have even completed some bonus books. The Gothic appeal, however, still has me in its grip, and I've books on order to continue the compulsion. Yesterday would have been the perfect day to indulge, but I didn't have a Gothicky thing at the moment (waiting on Amazon). Nevertheless, when I got home after lunch, I settled in for a couple of hours of comfort reading, cuddled up with dog, soft throw, and hot tea. Looking out the window, I'd think about how glad I was to be back inside and warm.

Most readers recognize different levels of skill on the part of an author: skill with language, with characterization, and with narration. But of course, all of it is achieved through language. If an author is especially good, I'll re-read sections for the pleasure of seeing a master at work. You do it, too, because in your blogs, you not only mention such passages but frequently quote them as illustration. Sometimes we take it a step further and analyze (almost subconsciously) the author's language techniques.

This morning, in reading book-blog, I discovered a review of Francine Prose's (pleasant irony) book Reading Like a Writer. I usually skip this kind of review because I'm not interested in becoming a writer. Kind of silly since I love books about "reading." In a good book about "writing," there is a confluence -- as writers are writing to be read, and as long as the book isn't a formulaic step-by-step-to-becoming-a-better-writer, there is a promise of learning how the author creates what the reader experiences.

Debra's review of Reading Like a Writer and the close reading technique appeals to me. How does Highsmith make a character like Ripley engaging? Read Debra's review (are there others of you who have read the book?), and you may end up adding another title to your TBR list. I did.


  1. I'm like you--I love books about reading and books, but I never really consider reading abou how to write as I know it is something I will never do. But I keep seeing this book around, so I guess I will have to check it out. It would make sense to read about how an author goes about writing though--it might be very revealing.

  2. That's a great old postcard image. Original antique Halloween postcards are worth quite a bit of cash!

    I love reading books about reading and about book love, etc. I haven't read many books on writing but I have read some: Stephen King's, Orson Scott Card's...and they were wonderful.

  3. Danielle - What a surprise that we find another category to be interested in. :) We can use Carl's list to start.

    Carl - I love old postcards, especially Halloween ones. I'm going to look for the Orson Scott Card book.

  4. I don't read books about writing for the same reason you don't - I'm never going to be a writer. I'm heading over to Debra's review. With both of you recomending this book, I may just have to be open minded and give it a try. I don't know whether to thank you or not for steering me in another direction, Jenclair. :> Every once in awhile I get feeling overwhelmed, but,*deep sigh*, it will pass.

    Carl, what is the title of the Orson Scott Card book? I really liked what Card had to say about reading fiction in his book Storyteller in Zion.

  5. booklogged - :0 I don't really expect to get all of my list read. Well, actually, I guess we all could if we would stop adding to the darn things!

  6. This is just a little distraction that will teach you how to write a how to....

    of course, most people don't write, they just read, so it has been structured in a manner that will bring maximum enjoyment!

    Thanks for caring, even if it's not about me...

    The Good Doctor Green.

  7. Thanks for the headsup Jenclair, I will head for Debra's blog right away as I am always fascinated by books on writing (even though I harbor no secret ambitions for being a writer). I also love reading about if you have any suggestions, do send them my way!

    Thanks so much!