Between Proulx and Proust

I’ve started reading Annie Proulx’s Close Range and talk about your sparse prose. Throw me a few more words woman! I envy her abillity to get to the point and tell the damn story and Proulx certainly knows how to tell a story so devoid of fat, you almost feel like you’re starving.

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying her clean paragraphs and her direct no nonsense style. The bleak prose certrainly works with the type of story she’s telling, but sometimes I find myself missing something – like the time I tried Atkins. I’m not such a bread fan, but after a few weeks of deprivation, I went on a carb bender that had me gobbling bread at every turn.

Close Range makes me want to read something long and substantial; I don’t even care if it’s good, as long as it’s satisfying. On the other hand, I have problems with stories that don’t go anywhere; the words all prettied up with nowhere to go. I guess the problem about wordiness and rambiling is knowing when to stop. But I can’t seem to do that. I find reassurance in repetition. I’m doing it now actually. I don’t know if it’s an ego thing, an insecurity thing or if I just don’t know when to stop.

I mean, I promise never to write twenty pages recalling the taste of a cookie or anything, but I think midway between Proulx and Proust would be a good place.


  1. I should add it’s not that I’m opposed to wordiness, it just has to be good words, none of those silly extras that add no meaning or style to a sentence. Ocassionally they’re allowed to sneak in for the sake of rhythm but that’s all.Proulx is too sparse for my tastes too – too jerky and hard to get hold of. Proust I haven’t even faced yet. It occurs to me though that somewhere between the two of them just about sweeps up the entire breadth of literature. That gives you a lot to work with Niki:-)

  2. kallioppe

    I agree. Rhythm is important and if the writer is good, I’ll put up with some rambling. If the writer is great, I can forgive almost anything – My fave writing is when I get lost in the words and am taken somewhere far away. Maybe what we are both saying is that lengthy metaphors and infectual descriptions are used far too frequently in so-called good writing. It makes everything sound so passionless and samey and boring. That is the worst thing of all. It’s boring.

  3. kallioppe

    I’m with you Fran – Maybe we could aim for gloriously bad? That way the messy splatter is at least memorable. Boring is the kiss of death.Buffy, thanks for the comment. I enjoyed your site as well and plan to revist when I get more time – so many good blogs, so little time.

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