Friday, January 18, 2008

Long Books

I so admire those writers who can hold your interest through a thousand pages or so. It's no mean feat. Most of us have to contend with sag-in-the-middle even inside two hundred pages. The secret is to have a great story, full of detail and interest.
First one I think of is Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With The Wind". Next is M.M.Kaye's "The Far Pavilions". Stephen King said the latter is a good book to take on a long sea voyage. Never fails in its imagery. And gosh, I know why she shortened the hero's name to Ash. Imagine having to type 'Englebert' or 'Humphrey' a few thousand times...
At present I'm reading "Red Mars", one of the science fiction trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. He not only has a great story full of realistic characters, he also had to render the landscape of the red planet correctly and come up with the machinery, tools etc to colonise it. Amazing. And I'm reading the series back to front, since the first one I found was "Green Mars", third of the line. Doesn't matter, each book stands alone. Now I 'm on the lookout for "Blue Mars", number two. Yes, it's on the bookfinder sites, but I have to leave it until next Christmas, when I usually give myself two weeks off writing and treat myself to reading a long book. I cannot read and write at the same time, being a slowcoach. So Red Mars, started at Christmas, sits next to my chair waiting for me to have time to dip into it for a few pages. Not the ideal way to read, but there's so much substance there I'm quite satisfied with a taste, like a chewy and delicious snack.
What else? James A Michener specialised in long 'uns. I read both "Hawaii" and "The Source" in 1970 while I breast-fed our youngest child. I've read "Centennial" as well. His secret is to have a long and interesting history and tell it in plain language. Something happening in every paragraph.
And I've read Tolstoy's "War And Peace". Honest, I have. Years ago, in my twenties. I wonder sometimes how it would seem to me now, forty years later. But hey, if I'm going to write a long and interesting book of my own, I don't think I'll have time to read old Leo again.
By the way, the picture has nothing to do with the post. It's my husband's paternal grandparents. I just thought it was nice. Be grateful I can post a photo at all. I'm technophobic.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Monya, love your artistic style as much as your wonderful words. -- Thank you. -- Eric

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Monya,
Keep up the good work.

Suz :)

Monya Clayton said...

Thank you, Eric and Suz!