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(Ian McEwan) renown novalist's writing Options
Miriam...
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 9:33:51 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/20/2012
Posts: 1,032
Neurons: 12,634
Good morning everyone.

My inquiry is to the master teachers here on TFD.

I read this morning, an excerpt from an e-mail sent from Ian McEwan, living in Paris this last month, to the Edge Community for discussion; the introduction of which I have copied below.

The reason I am posting this, is because I was suddenly struck with the impression that this wasn't very good writing. I am curious to read what others here think. I don't mean this to be an attack on Ian McEwan's person or writing - just a discussion about "good writing."


"IAN MCEWAN, the award-winning British novelist, is the author of The Child in Time (winner of the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, 1987), Amsterdam (winner of the Booker Prize, 1998),Atonement, Sweet Tooth, and The Children Act. He lives in London. Ian McEwan's Edge Bio Page.

Reality Club discussion: Scott Atran, Daniel L. Everett, Dan Sperber, James J. O'Donnell

""The death cult chose its city well—Paris, secular capital of the world, as hospitable, diverse and charming a metropolis as was ever devised. And the death cult chose its targets in the city with ghoulish, self-damning accuracy—everything they loathed stood plainly before them on a happy Friday evening: men and women in easy association, wine, free-thinking, laughter, tolerance, music—wild and satirical rock and blues. The cultists came armed with savage nihilism and a hatred that lies beyond our understanding. Their protective armour was the suicide belt, their idea of the ultimate hiding place was the virtuous after-life, where the police cannot go. (The jihadist paradise is turning out to be one of humanity’s worst ever ideas; slash and burn in this life, eternal rest among kitsch in the next)....""

Thank you everyone.
Miriam


thar
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 9:41:07 AM

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In what respect do you consider it bad writing? Can you be a bit more specific?

On a personal note, I find it an expressive personal voice. Apart from 'self-damning accuracy' which I puzzle over, in a minor way.
alertec
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 10:08:16 AM
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Joined: 5/23/2009
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Location: Montréal, Quebec, Canada
I agree with thar - it's amazingly good writing. Wish I could write like that.
Robert Imgrat
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 10:37:04 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

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Location: South Dublin, Ireland
I may say, that it is more understandable in comparison to the speech of President of the French Republic, I had tried to follow. (around 12 o'clock on SkyTV) It contains, perhaps, a little more fire.
Rahul Goyal
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 11:12:49 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

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Location: Kolkata, Bengal, India
Amazing writing skills and what I like the most is that there is no use of flashy words.
NKM
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 12:59:12 PM

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Joined: 2/14/2015
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Location: Corinth, New York, United States
I think it's an excellent piece of expressive writing.

Had I been asked to proofread it, I might have suggested changing "as was ever devised" to "as ever was devised", and I think I'd prefer a colon in place of the semicolon in that final parenthetical characterization of the "jihadist paradise".

But that would be my style, not his.

ellana
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 3:07:36 PM
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Location: Roquefort, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France
I too think this is excellent writing... saying and telling it as it is, in the context of current events.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 3:12:14 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 22,813
Neurons: 92,675
Miriam
Is your problem with that initial sentence? An adjectival clause, comparative 'as ____ as'.

....Paris, as hospitable a metropolis as was ever devised.


Miriam...
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 9:04:43 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/20/2012
Posts: 1,032
Neurons: 12,634
I actually don't know what it is I don't like about it. Perhaps it is just his personal style, and perhaps I was wrong in using the term "bad". It is just ...something I can't lay (:)) my finger on.

Maybe it seems choppy or disjointed in someway, or his word choices. Although, I do like his ending.

Or, perhaps, I have just grown used to the writing of literary giants like Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville, Dickens and George Elliot, for example, in our discussions. An example of this might be what someone posted, not too long ago: an excerpt from Moby Dick about Queequeg as he lay dying. It was very beautiful writing (I thought), and I regret I was too busy to comment about it.

If anyone, who might be reading this, knows which post I am referring to, I would appreciate having it re-posted or given the link to it.

Thank you, everyone, for your posts.
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