Monday, September 19, 2011

Literary Musings

I've been reading listening to The Poet by Michael Connelly, trying to get caught up because I haven't read that one, but it kind of sucks because I know "who dun it." I read the sequel, you see, The Narrows.

I had to give Connelly a rest for a while after muddling through Echo Park. I had been building up a slight annoyance at his writing style. All the knowing (he knew, she knew). All the jargony colloquialisms, "crossing the line," "making a play." Everyone has nicknames, but it's never something stupid like Spidey or Porkchop. It's some writerly play on their name, like everyone has nicknames based on their given name. The plots can be downright outlandish and the characterizations sometimes thin and too on the nose.

This is all present in The Poet, but I'm trying not to let it get to me. Here's the thing: I went on an Elmore Leonard streak recently, and I started to notice things about his style that bugged me too!

Leonard lets his characters tell his stories, which is awesome, but I started to notice his stories were all pretty similar. A spiderweb of double crosses, maybe a gangster who wants to get over on his boss or a girlfriend who wants to milk her sugardaddy. There's always a hapless but clever guy stuck in the middle of it. I read Rum Punch, Freaky Deaky, Mr. Paradise, and Road Dogs all in a row and they're all basically the same story. The circumstances change, the settings, the names and backgrounds. But it's the same blue print.

Does that make it flawed? Nah...but I found it hard to get into an Elmore Leonard book after that run. Tried with Bandits and Tishomingo Blues. But I gave up and picked a Hillerman. Then one by Lawrence Block.

Might be best to break it up like that. Rotate the reading material. I'll catch on to my favorite authors' annoying quirks...eventually.

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