Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A study in contrasts

So I started Five People when I left for Boston and finished it as I started my trip home. As I said, I always bring a backup, so I moved on to that - Heart of Darkness. Talk about a difference!

Both books have their followings. Conrad's Heart is labeled a classic. The two are written VERY differently, and I dislike the writing in BOTH.
Maybe it's because I read in such volume. Maybe it's because I have a strong interest in language. Writing style was the first thing I noticed and it pulls from both stories.
Five People is written in short sentences, which frequently start with the same word throughout a paragraph. Repetitive. This can be effective in certain situations. Throughout an entire book, it gives the impression a high schooler wrote it.
Heart of Darkness takes the other extreme. I realize some may be due to the time it was written, some because the author is not a native English speaker, but still. Stuffy. Using odd and unnecessary large words that don't fit the story or the personality of the narrator.

Beyond the writing Five People is a pretty good story. Interesting concept. At the book club no one cared about HOW it was written (except me) the focus was on WHAT it was saying and the meaning of this, that, and the other. Good discussion, but I would have enjoyed a bit more back and forth on the writing itself.

For Heart of Darkness, I'm reserving final judgement. It doesn't seem quite as painful as the first time, but I'm not sure if I really like it yet.

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