Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Story → Language → Story

In lieu of this month's craft book (I'm reading a good one for June, I promise, and it's even got the word "Damn" in the title), here are a couple of thoughts on my personal reading through the ages.

As a child: Story all the way. My faves were Enid Blyton (for those readers scratching their heads: remember, I'm British), Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, and Ursula Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea.

Then I took a detour, studying English Literature for five long years. The more difficult the text, the more opaque the language, the more I wanted to be seen toting it through the library. (Under the covers I read Jane Austen, Dickens, and Thomas Hardy--still on the syllabus, but definitely not cutting edge.)

Now: I'm back to story. Give me a tale well-told, and I'm yours for keeps. I write middle grade, so that's mainly what I read. But the adult authors who keep me up at night are people like Lee Child and Stephen King.

I got to thinking about this when I just couldn't get into a novel which had won all sorts of plaudits and critical acclaim. But, after several pages, full of dazzling language and minutely observed description, I was still waiting for a story to show. I gave up.

Either my attention span is shrinking as brain cells atrophy, or I'm becoming more discriminating in my old age.

What about you? What does your reading history look like?


  1. Mine goes from fantasy, beginning with Tolkien and the venturing into murkier waters, and then into a lot of spy novels like Le Carre, Ludlum, and even some Clancy.

    I didn't started reading YA until I was an OAMF, but now I read a lot of it, and try to write some, too.

    Personally I prefer writing to storytelling, but a balance of the two is actually perfect.

  2. did I miss something
    writing is storytelling
    isn't it
    Norb Blei told us
    get the story down!
    it is all about story
    off to garden...more comment later!

  3. So, which novel did you leave behind? I'm trying to read Marilynn Robinson's "Home" and having the same difficulty you encounter.


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