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Deborah Chester <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Open discussions on the writer's craft <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 8 Mar 2005 09:36:06 -0600
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Hear!  Hear! to everything the man said in his acceptance speech.  I'm not sure when PLOT became a dirty word in literary circles, but Parry is exactly right in his comments about dwindling themes.  Over the weekend, I read a recently published novel called THE ESSENTIAL CHARLOTTE by Libby Schmais because -- contrary to popular opinion -- I do enjoy literary fiction from time to time, and I needed a taste of in-depth characterization and thematic content.  Didn't get it.  CHARLOTTE, alas, was about a dysfunctional family and a heroine who'd had, in her opinion, a less than ideal childhood.  It was trivial, banal, dull reading.  I resisted the desire to abandon it halfway through in hopes that eventually we'd get to some genuine insight.  The biggest insight I reached was that I wouldn't be reading Ms. Schmais again.


I also read over the weekend a book called GRAVE PERIL by Jim Butcher, about some evil entity torturing ghosts and forcing them to rise and cause trouble in the world of mortals.  Yes, I know.  Over-the-top melodrama all the way.  However, despite all of that, at the core of the book were themes of good versus evil, right versus wrong, the power of love, family, and home, and self-sacrifice.  The opening scene of the book involved the characters battling a ghost in the maternity ward of a hospital to keep the ghost from smothering the newborn infants.

Again, the book was zany and extreme, but I can't argue with the themes.  And it seems to me that saving innocent babies from death is more worthwhile than contemplating navel lint in the Guggenheim Museum.  Still, it would be nice if more literary types could bend their talent to writing about the larger themes.  Then we'd have the best of both worlds.

Deborah Chester
Professional Writing
Gaylord College of Journalism & Mass Communication
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK  73019-2051
Ph: (405) 325-4192
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