Prufrock's Page

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ramblings On Style

Have just completed Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things, and found it, well, remarkable. It's almost a prose poem masquerading as a novel -- but with the requisite care being given to characterisation and plot. McGregor makes use of repetition, alliteration and cadence to create a prose style that's hypnotic and utterly distinctive. Which got one thinking: one of the problems with most Indian writers in English today is lack of style. There's a lot to be said for an unadorned, simple manner of expression, yes, but the great danger is that this too often slips into blandness. If one recalls right, it was V.S. Naipaul who said once that prose ought to be like a clear pane of glass, not getting in the way of the places and people it describes. Certainly, one sees the merit of this, and the skill required for it -- but at the end of the day, a distinctive voice is what one remembers and values in an author. Think of Dickens. Of Austen. Of Sterne. How can one not be enraptured by the way language is used by writers such as Nabokov and Banville? Those are the stained-glass masterpieces that remain in memory. .


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