Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Complaints of a Nobody

I am currently reading a masterpiece: Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose. The other night, while reading, I was compelled to post this to Facebook:
"From her temperate veranda she now saw only void where the valley used to be--a gray, smoky void into which she peered, hunting distance and relief from the mirage of mountains that quivered around her with visible heat. The wind that breathed past her and moved the banal bright geraniums in their pots brought a phantasmal sound of bells, and expired again, tired as a sigh." -- Wallace Stegner, from Angle of Repose. (And people read Twilight.)
So, okay. Maybe it is a little stuffy of me to say that. But it is frustrating to see people like, say, Dan Brown (and the Twilight writer, whose name I can't think of and refuse to look up) making a fortune with the writing skills of a sixth grader. 

I know that, in the end, it is not the prose that your average reader is interested in, but, are they even aware of prose like Stegner's? If they were, would they still be able to tolerate Dan Brown, or Twilight?

I struggled through Brown's Angels and Demons, but it wasn't easy. I can safely say that, in my opinion, he is the worst published author I have ever read. No depth of character, no command of prose and, outside of a shuffle-the-deck-and-withhold-plot information approach, no real skill at plot construction. I have taught teenagers who could write circles around Brown.
Wallace Stegner and pal.
(I swear I hadn't seen this
picture when I took my
picture for the 'About' page
for this blog...

But, there is the frustration with pursuing art all of your life. You have no credibility if you have no success and/or credentials. I know Dan Brown stinks (as do many like him) and I can see the brilliance and subtlety of Stegner, but -- who cares? I know that much of the music that people (even really smart people who have no musical background) laud as brilliant is just three-chord adolescent thrashing disguised in a cloak of synthetic sensitivity -- but, who cares what I think? Who am I? Have I written a best-seller? -- won a Pulitzer or a Nobel?

Well, not yet. Until then maybe I should shut up. I can make jokes about Brown all I want but, as my mom says all of the time, he will "laugh his way all the way to the bank."

Back to Stegner...

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