So I've finished with Mr. Jacob De Zoet and am now well into Five Skies by Ron Carlson, an author who is in many ways the opposite of the flashy magician-like David Mitchell, but easily his stylistic match. Carlson's prose is what you'd call Hemmingway-esque, minus the bad Hemmingway stuff, and gives you a crystal clear view of whatever he's describing, be it some clouds or Idaho desert or welding the pieces of a big broken road grader blade back together. He describes scenic Idaho so well I'm having myself some sagebrush flashbacks myself, and somehow he's making three men working on a 10 week construction project in the middle of nowhere an interesting drama.
That's the true test of a writer's skill, isn't it? Taking something most people wouldn't think was exceedingly exciting and drawing the reader in for an entire novel. Perhaps that's why literary critics and writers are so uppity, and perhaps this was the last great challenge David Foster Wallace was setting for himself in his unfinished novel (out on April 15th) The Pale King-how can you make working at the IRS in the eighties both as unbelievably dull as it actually would have been and still something worth reading about?
Because that's life, baby! Dull as shit, most of the time, with sudden, intermittent bursts of pleasure that allow people to carry on.
In totally unrelated news, I start test scoring again next Monday out there in Woodbury.