Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shaking out the filler


I'm halfway through China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, and while it's not the worst offender I've ever encountered, I find myself just wishing things would go a little quicker, and not spend a whole 'nother page describing the filth and squalor in a whole new part of town. Otherwise, it's a pretty interesting read, and I look forward to finishing and writing its review.

10 comments:

  1. Perdido Street Station is definitely right up there with Jonathan Strange as far as books that I want to scream "Finish the dang thing already!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To clarify: books that you want ME to finish already.

      Delete
  2. I haven't read it, but sometimes I felt that way when reading a Franzen novel. He's great, but it was like, "You can say that using 100 less pages!!!!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I get that about Franzen. I don't recall The Corrections being so bad, but Freedom just seemed to take forever.

      Delete
  3. Infinite Jest? That's what I'm currently reading and I feel exactly the same way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've tried to start Infinite Jest so many times...it's up there with Joyce's Ulysses for me.

      Delete
  4. Hi, I've nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! http://oceanowl.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/inspired-insanity-the-very-inspiring-blogger-award/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary! I've been slow to respond here, but I've already been off to browse your site. Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  5. I caught on pretty early on that there was a reason behind the elaborate, deliberate descriptions of New Crobuzon. Crisis energy, or the potential energy of disparate ideas, things, is the central theme of the story and is itself a metaphor for the meaning an author brings to ideas through narrative strategies. Once the device of Crisis Energy was presented in the story, all of the mis en scene you are decrying didn't seem ponderous, but actually full of potential narrative energy: all of these decaying desultory places were going to click into place and have sudden meaning.

    Hopefully this made sense to you later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I have a lot of respect for Mieville. You'll note from my actual review that I rated Perdido Street Station pretty high in a number of categories:

      http://englishmajorversustheworld.blogspot.com/2012/11/book-review-perdido-street-station.html

      It's possible that my ennui with the accumulation of his descriptions is just a matter of taste. I happen to love Moby Dick, but I know plenty of intelligent people who find it frustratingly dense, obscure, and just plain boring.

      I agree that Mieville seems the type to have reasons for his rhetorical strategies; his writing is clever, erudite, and thoughtful, even if sometimes I felt it got caught in its own excess. But simply because he had reasons for his strategy does not justify the strategy. If it worked for you, then I can accept that we may just appreciate different flavors. But even with a sense of Mieville's (legitimately thoughtful) intentions, it nevertheless often felt "ponderous" to me, as you put it so well.

      Delete