Writing's About Communion Between Writer and Reader
11 Jan 2016
Writing's a tricky business. You start reading a book, get into a groove and you don't like any surprises. This is a story. You don't want distractions. The best writer's the one who stays on the edge of things, doesn't even make observations from afar. Not, certainly like Dickens or Austen, or the worst offender of all, Joseph Conrad. Because this is the age of unwisdom. We're used to watching television, the slick glossy images that float untrammeled before our eyes and don't need editing. Same with writing. Bugger thinking. We want the story. Hence the success of John Grisham and his ilk. Here's the story, he say's, and gives it to us- again and again and again. He's got his beliefs and attitudes but mostly they're the reader's and you can take them as read. What happens next, that's all that matters. Well that's certainly the case with Deliverance, the book. But at the same time, there's more - a lot more. You see, Dickey's a poet, you read in the little biog in the front, "one of Americas finest", at least in 1974, if the blurb is to be believed. And if you don't believe the blurb, read the book.
Because as Dickey's at great pains to show us, he doesn't just write suspense, he's also a poet,if not one of America's finest. It fits and it doesn't. Here are our intrepid adventurers battling with a river and a couple of bastards, getting buggered and such. But here also is the poetry, as inevitable as the river and the buggerers. And, oh dear, it gets in the way.Does it get in the way. The guy's so self conscious . Why bother with straight description when you've got a real classy image up your sleeve. It's a case of there's no bread so let them eat cake. Here's Lord Tennyson with a nasty case of the snuffles, of high Art meeting Life. Apparently it made a great film, but it doesn't work on the page. Like a river in flood, the minutiae of what happens gets lost. He's too busy painting word pictures to notice the bodies floating past. you don't give a stuff about the characters. There's a wife or two but they rarely exist. Stuff happens but you barely notice it. he's got vaseline over his camera lens.you're meant to be impressed by the writing but that's not what writings about. Writing's about a communion between writer and reader, not self glorification. No deliverance for Dickey - feed him to the lions, or as he might have it, the tawny-maned kings of the jungle. 2/5 (less)