Book Group this morning discussion Elizabeth Strouts ' Olive Kitteridge' which most of us thought was an excellent read. It did beg the question (we all agreed) what do we look for in a book? Do we look for a) a superb standard of writing or b) a good story? Opinions were divided. Obviously ideally we should have both but what I am asking is which is more important to you personally?
After lunch I made myself go for a walk with Percy. The sun was shining and there was a strong, cold wind blowing but I managed to go the long way round, meeting a couple of friends to stop and chat to on the way. I took this photograph on the edge of the estate, about a couple of hundred yards from my bungalow: but by the time I got home twenty minutes later the sky was pretty black and within five minutes we had a snow storm. So Winter has not finished with us yet.
Monday, 2 March 2020
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I like a good flow to a story, something that carries the reader along. Good writing, yes, but in my school we were taught to never use a 'big' word if a little one would do, so not pretentious writing either.
I enjoy both types of novels and tend to go as the mood takes me. If I get through the first 50 pages I'm likely to go all the way but not always as there are writers to try to catch the reader early on before they ease off and I'm wise to them. I once read a book by Nabokov which I couldn't understand as he used such strange words but in a bizarre way I enjoyed it,
Hmmm. I have often discarded a book, even when interested in the plot and storyline, because of bad writing. Glaring mistakes just irritate me and prevent me from enjoying the rest of it.
Your estate looks lovely. Very attractive and beautiful views.
I cannot see how a good story can be published if it is not well written, so I would blame any publisher who let one past. I cannot actually see how the two can be separated. I like a good story but what is a good story for me is not necessarily a good story for another. However, I doubt any reader tolerates bad writing.
I'm happy with a good story well told. I enjoy exquisite writing, of course, but the story is what draws me to any book. I ordered a copy of Olive Kitteridge yesterday after reading your recommendation. I struggle with novels since getting older; they don't appeal to me as strongly as a good biography, or even better, autobiography.
Chilly and damp here, with clouds and showers. I'd planned to rake out the flower beds but will wait for a better day.
Rachel has a point in a publisher being to blame when a good story is not well written. Nowadays, though, it is relatively easy to self-publish - which unfortunately often means that hobby writers overestimate their skill, and although they may have a good idea for a story, its execution is lacking.
When a good story is written in a resonably legible manner, I am not too picky about the actual writing. But when the writing is so bad that the story can not be enjoyed, I rather skip on the story and prefer a book that shows at least good writing even if the story may not be all that great.
We certainly have to make most of the best parts of each day. It started off beautifully clear down here too, but we later had a couple of hail storms and it is much colder.
I think possibly that a well written story might save a not particularly good one, but if possible to have a well written good story makes a book memorable and far more enjoyable.
That is such an attractive view of your estate of bungalows. If I wasn't so content with my little flat I might be envious.
I read Olive Kitteredge several years ago and, the older I get, the more I appreciate it. There were moments that I felt such deep empathy and sadness for a character but I also felt pulled in by the good writing. As a member of a book club, I have to say that I need a bit of both. I have such a hard time reading even the most beautifully written books if I hate the overall story or character. We are reading Toni Morrison right now and while her writing is powerful, visceral and shows such craftsmanship, the horrors of slavery, the pain and sadness of the story are just too much for me. I would never reread this book for pleasure even though I can recognize the talent of the writer.
My English maternal grandfather's name was Percy. He liked to flirt with the ladies, and I'm sure he'd love strolling around the estate with you.
I love a good story, but it really needs to be well written too. I would hope that the publisher does his job.
You live in a beautiful area. I'm glad you got your walk in before the snow hit. March is such a funny month coming in with promises of Spring yet so often giving us winter!
Do try to see the 4 part mini-series on Netflix, it's great. Frances McDormand plays Olive and is superb in the part.
Knowing Maine from living in New England several years, I believe the book really tells the rather offbeat story so well. Maine is beautiful, often strange in some ways, but really interesting people inhabit the state. . . . . . . .and the coast, beaches and lobsters are to die for.
I love books, but only real books with pages to turn. Writing has to be first rate - it grates on me when a story has bad English and punctuation - but of course the story has to be awesome too to keep me interested.
Sheila your comment did make me laugh - thank you for it!
Thanks to everyone for your comments on story versus writing - most interesting - I shall read them at the next book group meeting as we had a good discussion on it this morning.
I like a good book. Sometimes it has a good story and sometimes it has strong writing.
You have a lovely neighborhood, Pat. I also think a good book needs both - a great story but also good writing. Good question!
I need to have the urge to turn the page. If I lose interest.... that's it.
I haven't read any Hillary Mantel but everyone says it has everything - a riveting story, beautifully written. Historians are very sniffy about historical novels, but not many of them can write.
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