My Photo

Categories

Roll Call

Become a Fan

« Meanwhile, on another blog ... | Main | The increasingly forgettable work of Malcolm Gladwell »

Sunday, 11 October 2009

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c2df453ef0120a5d7a8a0970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference On the style of Octavia Butler's Patternist novels:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Andrew

I just finished Patternmaster, actually, taking your advice to start there. I certainly wasn't bothered by the prose--it just seemed to me like straightforward YA-level diction and syntax, but nothing obviously maladroit about it. What you say about her shaping her style to fit the internal chronology of the books is fascinating, though. I'm looking forward to reading the others.

SEK

I still think that's the place to start with the Patternist series.* There's something to be said for knowing the outcome before seeing the process, since the series is dedicated to exploring the development of the latter. I'd recommend going to Wild See, then moving through the narrative instead of chronological progression. (I will, however, most likely change my mind on this tomorrow, when I'll likely have finished re-reading Mind of My Mind.)

it just seemed to me like straightforward YA-level diction and syntax, but nothing obviously maladroit about it.

The comparison to Dick is a bit muddled, but the thickness of it isn't mine -- someone else made it without realizing that, at its worst, Butler's prose is pedestrian whereas Dick's, at its worst, openly offends literary sensibilities.

*Note to self: Do you italicize the name of a series when it's not the title of a work in it? The MLA Handbook treats "series" to mean stuff like "Topics in English Linguistics," and says no italics/underline.

Martin Wisse

"Dickian hack"?

PaulR

"TypePad editor not so averse to material copied from OpenOffice documents"

Um, use a plain text editor as a go-between. Say Notepad, or TextEdit, or gedit.

"MLA Handbook"? Member of the Legislative Assembly Handbook?

Ahistoricality

"Modern Language Association" aka the people who ruined footnotes.

Adam Roberts

So, wait, are you saying that Obama wrote Butler's novels? Or Ayers?

SEK

So, wait, are you saying that Obama wrote Butler's novels? Or Ayers?

Definitely Obama. You can tell by the way they both use the words "black," "education," "the," and "of." So, like I said, definitely Ayers.

"Modern Language Association" aka the people who ruined footnotes.

You should've seen the look on a committee member's face when I tried to argue for the superiority of Chicago . . . actually, you probably have: just look in the mirror when you encounter something written in MLA format and there it is.

Um, use a plain text editor as a go-between. Say Notepad, or TextEdit, or gedit.

Then I lose all the formatting, and have to re-do it by hand. It'd actually be faster for me to re-type and incorporate HTML on the fly, but that's still awful tedious. Really, the only reason I'm complaining is that I used to be able to Ctrl-v into the TypePad rich text editor but can't anymore. Same with Wordpress and Blogger, for that matter. It's really just my annoyance that their version of an "upgrade" makes my life that much more difficult.

"Dickian hack"?

Sorry, I'd hoped my shorthand would be understand: the complaint made against Butler---and sci fi generally---usually comes from some asthete who's had a friend push one of the clumsier Philip K. Dick books on them. I don't buy that Dick was a hack per se, but his prose was frequently outstripped by his need to get ideas down, and he was, by admission, inimical to revision-for-style. If he changed his mind about the execution of an idea, he would rewrite and pay more attention to his prose, but he wouldn't rewrite solely because of this awkward series of sentences or clumsy tonal shifts. "My readers won't notice, and if they do, they won't care, because that's not why they read me" captures his approach. (That's not an actual quotation, for the record, just me summarizing his position.)

The comments to this entry are closed.