Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Excellent Writing

I am a reader. I read lots. Way more than any respectable homemaker/homeschool mom/mother of nine ought to read. There are many things I would like to accomplish, but don't. Instead I choose to read. It is my downtime. My emotional day off.

That said, here is a snippet from a recent read that is an example of such excellent writing that I just had to share it with you. It is from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum book, Twelve Sharp. (A little caveat. These books are not prim and proper. There is blood and guts, coarse language, and a paragraph or two or occasionally even a page of "smut." More than I like to see. But throughout, they are filled with wonderful humor and with jewels of colorful prose.)
We moved onto I-95 south, and I tightened my seat belt. Driving out of D.C. into northern Virginia is like NASCAR on a flat straight track, racing bumper-to-bumper six wide, twenty miles deep. And attached to that is another identical race going six wide in the opposite direction. Two-story-high sound barriers rise out of the breakdown lanes and form a cement canyon filled with wall-to-wall noise and insanity. We hurtled forward to the appropriate exit, catapulted ourselves down the chute, and peeled off toward Springfield.

Isn't that great. I love the image it conjures. Notice the details in the first several sentences. She just puts the reader right on that stretch of highway. Then the use of "hurtled," "catapulted," and "peeled" in the final sentence is the icing on the cake. Few things in writing bug me more than colorful writing that tries too hard. But Evanovich makes it work.

I haven't read much contemporary fiction. A simple mystery once in a while for candy reading. I like Lillian Jackson Braun's Jim Kwilleran and the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries. And although not contemporary authors, I have read most of Agatha Kristi's books several times and the same with Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. My nine year old, Elsie, is hooked on Sherlock Holmes and it is fun to converse with her about our favorites.

Generally I prefer to read classics and non-fiction. I also really like to read historical fiction, but preferably if it is recommended by a source I trust. I guess I feel like the time I spend reading is like a vacation. And I want to either learn something from it or really enjoy it. It is too much of a risk when I don't know anything about a book first. If a book has not stood the test of time or been recommended, it is too easy to get one that is worthless or cheesy or just way to much smut. But my friend, Kristi, put me on to these Stephanie Plum books and, sorry to say, I am hooked.

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