Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

NY Times Article on stylistic ruts

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I commend to you this article, which appeared last Sunday (Sep. 30, 2012) in the New York Times.

Escaping One’s Own Shadow

It makes an interesting point about how one’s writing is affected by one’s half-conscious mind-set and suggests ways to escape the stylistic ruts one can get into.  Speaking as a Ph.D. psychologist, I find the reverent psychobabble about priming to be a bit over the top, but priming does happen, so I guess I shouldn’t complain more than I just did.  So, I won’t.

On Finishing Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I don’t agree with Emperor Joseph II that Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro had “too many notes,”  but I do think that Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot had too many words.  The extra words aren’t evenly distributed.  They seem to have piled up in the middle third of the book: starting with the initial descriptions of Leonard’s manic depressive psychosis and continuing through the strangely unmoving descriptions of Mitchell’s experiences as a volunteer in Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in India.  I just didn’t care.

I enjoyed the last 80 or so pages (the last 20% of the book)–the two final chapters in which 1) Leonard and Madeleine get married, honeymoon, and melt down; and 2) Madeleine and Mitchell do the right thing and don’t even think about getting married after all.  Thank goodness for small favors.  I couldn’t have dealt with an ending that saddled Madeleine with Mitchell.   Eeeeeew.

The actual ending–the author’s summing up of the plot through Madeleine and Mitchell’s final conversation–is a bit much, although it is pleasantly self-referential.  It didn’t make me smile, exactly, but the corners of my mouth did turn up a little bit.