Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I made an attempt, feeble as it may have been, to read the book "The Song is You" by Arthur Phillips. Phillips was called "one of the best writers in America" by The Washington Post, but I don't see it. At least, not in this novel. I could only get through 27 pages of this book.

I don't much care for Phillips' style. It's probably premature to make a statement like this, considering I haven't read a complete novel of his, so this is a gut reaction. He interrupts his sentences too much. Now, I'm a fan of stream-of-consciousness writing, but Phillips' style just doesn't flow. I found myself reading sentences over and over trying to remember all he was talking about. And the novel wasn't keeping my attention. I didn't care where the story was going.

I have an issue with people who write about music, but don't seem to understand it, not really. Barbara Hall wrote about music beautifully and accurately in her novel. Phillips, not so much. There's too much talk about ipods and memories connected to music. But it's all superficial. There's no strong emotional connection, just surface-level descriptions. It's very unconvincing. 

Also, I prefer first person narratives, but that's my own prejudice.

So I bailed on "The Song is You" and retreated to "My Antonia." I took my own advice and decided to pick up where I left off.

What I think is fantastic about Willa Cather is her characterizations. I haven't read this book for months, but I can remember who every character is. The people she creates are distinct and vivid, and I care about them. I can't explain why specifically, but I do.

There is something very comfortable and soothing about Cather's style. I can feel myself settle into it. There's a nice flow and cadence to her writing. It's very easy-going and even paced. And her natural descriptions are beautiful (which is what everyone says about her, I know, but it's absolutely true). What I love is that she creates these wonderful descriptions without being overly verbose, which I greatly appreciate.

I am more than happy to curl up with "My Antonia" for as long as it will last me.

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