The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I finally finished reading Tale of Genji yesterday in the car. I've had it in my console for a year or two, and have been reading it in the carpool line, although not every day. And it's not even the complete Tale of Genji, it's only the first nine chapters, maybe a fifth or so of the whole thing, depending on who you're talking to. I think the introduction explained why my version only included nine chapters, but it's been so long since I read the introduction I've forgotten what the explanation was.

I might start over and reread the book--or not--now that I have an idea what to expect and how it goes. I was thinking about it last night, and realized that it reminds me of the Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian. Both wander around without the same kind of strong plot structure most books have. In the Jack Aubrey books, it was like I'd be reading along and suddenly some beloved or key character who's been around for six or eight books dies in a throwaway paragraph, and that's it--the story just moves on. If there was any three act structure in most of the books, I couldn't tell you what it was. It was like P. O'Brian just loved his characters and the world they inhabited, and spent as much time there as possible. And the reader likes being there too, even without the usual tight rising action, climax, resolution, etc.

Same with Genji. That was written over years, and you can tell the author just enjoyed her characters and being with them day by day.

So what does this say about the rules re. structure? These books are very readable, and they're memorable, too. Maybe because of the characters--yeah, it's the characters who stay with you, I think. Maybe that says that if you love your characters enough, it can come through in the writing, and a reader might just be willing to wander around with them through endless ocean adventures or romantic affairs. But boy, I can't see trying to put out/sell a book right now that does this. Now that I think about it, there are probably about twenty gazillion wannabe writers out there who have aimlessly meandering stories they're trying to sell. Why are those boring, while these two series (Genji really seems like a series, and I think it was written as one) are not (depending on your taste)?

And now that I think further, Alice in Wonderland was rather pointlessly meandering, wasn't it? No, I guess the reader was wondering how and when she'd get home. Hmm.

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