Just pushed myself to finish Beautiful Children, by Charles Bock. Had some soaring moments, but I was frequently frustrated with it. I don't trust writers who spend pages and pages inside their character's heads, doing the whole interior monologue thing. It's easy. It's false. It posits that people think in sentences and paragraphs and a calm, reasoned emotional logic. It believes in a kind of linear a-to-b psychology that only happens in books, not in real people's heads.
Show me with dialogue. Show me with behavior. Make something frikkin happen.
This last week I've settled down with Stephen King's behemoth novel, Under the Dome. I like Stephen King. I trust Stephen King. He's a generous writer, with large casts of characters and epic plots. He can be a lazy writer - I find myself wishing with about half of his books that he'd have taken it through one more draft - but he delivers what he promises to deliver. A good story. At least one or two Interesting characters. And, in his best books, a metaphor at the center of the story that you can pursue if you choose to. I though his last, Duma Key, was an effective meditation on grieving and loss.
I haven't been able to read very much of this year because I've spent my free time writing. So it's a great pleasure to be able to kick back with a book this last week. I've talked before in this blog about how starting a good book gives me a sensation of falling, that I'm being taken to another place, like Alice going down the rabbit hole. I think that might be the simplest requirement of great writing, or any great art for that matter. Take me to another place.