Too much or too little?

In the spirit of presenting diverse and varied points of view, I’d like to link a New York Times article titled A Short Defense of Literary Excess.

The contemporary preference seems to be for the economical, the efficient, for simple precision (though there is of course such a thing as complex precision). Books, it appears, should be neat and streamlined. Language shouldn’t be allowed to obscure a good story. There is a craving for easily relatable and sympathetic characters. Among critics and reviewers, the plain style is more likely to be praised than the elaborate or sprawling. Embellished prose is treated with suspicion, if not dismissed outright as overwritten, pretentious or self-indulgent. Drab prose is everywhere.

Yes, adjectives and all those ending in -ly should be exterminated…or at least cautiously sprinkled on our pages. Or not? Raymond Carver and Angela Carter: what a meeting! I love Cormac McCarthy’s sparse prose, but equally long for vertiginous sentences to sweep me away with them.

I don’t want to be suffocated, over-told, but neither I want to walk on shard-like words for too long. It’s so subjective, at times, and yet, when it works, scarcity or richness, it doesn’t matter.


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Filed under Authors, Fiction, Writing

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