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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today's Beautiful Prose (again, not mine)

I've learned more from the prose of F. Paul Wilson, Norman Partridge and the late Charles Grant than anyone I've read recently.  These are the only writers I've ever consciously tried to imitate in terms of style.  Not copy, exactly - but really ingest their styles, let their works mold and shape my style - while still trying to write in a way that's unique to my own self.   

Paul Wilson and Norman Partridge's word economy, specificity, and pacing are marvelous.  Wilson's Repairman Jack novels move so well, cover so much territory with prose that's almost addictive.  And his characterization, even of bit players is superb.  Norman Partridge's words hit like quick, sharp jabs.  Like precise chisel-strikes that carve out rock-solid stories. Anyone who wants to learn something about characterization and POV, start with Paul's The Tomb and read on. For some writing that packs serious punch - I mean, that will literally kick you off your feet - start with Norman's Dark Harvest.

Charles Grant, however.  His prose is beautiful, in that melancholic way that only other folks prone to melancholy (like myself) can appreciate as being beautiful.   I've got a more detailed post about his work later on this week, but for now, the following samplings are today's "beautiful prose of the day", a two-fer-one deal...

The fog had been there from the beginning.

When the Appalachians rose in dark volcanic flame and the sea slid back boiling, when the centuries-old glaciers gouged and ground and crushed their way through to pulverize the land and create the narrow valleys, when the lakes filled with rain and the beasts returned to prowl the forests, the fog was there, barely shifting, seldom rising; when the trees finally grew and the land became fertile, when the birds returned to roost and Man was born, the fog was there, breath of the night and mirror of the moon, scuttling to shadow ahead of the sun, returning to dusk to reclaim its place.

From The Tea Party.

I stand at the window, hands in  the pockets of my robe after cleaning my glasses for the fifth or sixth time and lighting another cigarette that, for some reason or other, I don't bother to finish.  The rain is still falling (sheeting now against the window) , the wind has found a crack under the front door (it's colder than before) and the house has filled with shadows that bring with them distant whisperings.

Meanwhile...I stand at the window, with the book shimmering behind me, and I see each time the wind shifts the indistinct figure of someone standing just outside the reach of the streetlight, of someone darker than shadow in the corner of my porch, of someone waiting on the lawn, oblivious to the storm.

From Nightmare Seasons.

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