Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Brief interlude in reading

Sometimes, when I am reading a novel in which every page introduces a new set of characters, all bristling with nicknames and dialect but with little else to distinguish them, and I have to start writing down a list to remember them . . .

I long for a Henry James novel: four characters and 800 pages of nothing but artistic descriptions and endless, leisurely dissections of their innermost thoughts.

Four is a good number. I can keep track of four.

I'm just saying.


Sisyphus said...

Whattaya doin, reading one of those Russian novels where everyone has multiple nicknames and family nicknames they go by and they are all taking on disguises and secret identities in order to overthrow the State?

If you were reading Norman Mailer it wouldn't matter 'cause all that matters is him, him him.

But then, you'd be reading Norman Mailer. (shudders)

undine said...
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undine said...

Pretty much, except American instead of Russian. Dorothy Parker had a good take on those names: she said that as long as the translators were at it, they ought to translate the names as well into Joe and Fred and Tom.

So true about Mailer! It's hard enough to get past all the references to himself in the third person, although I did like _The Executioner's Song_.