1. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    Why some writers do what they do.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jud, May 26, 2012.

    On occasion, when reading a novel - even one from an established, well-known writer - I come across some sentences and wonder why they've decided to write it in such a way. The simple answer, of course, is that it's simply their style, but one example came last night as I was finishing up Charles Bukowski's Ham On Rye. In this scene a friend of the protagonist has called round to his place. They open a bottle of wine:

    At first I wondered if it was a misprint, then decided it wasn't. But it still seems incredibly clumsy to me and I can't help but wonder why it was written like this. It's not entirely out of character for the overall style, but neither is it in keeping, strictly speaking.
     
  2. P R Crawford
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    P R Crawford Member

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    Hi Jud,

    Definitely clumsy.... but only out of context.

    You'll have noticed though that earlier in the scene there's the line "I poured Becker another wine" which follows a few lines down from the initial "libation". They're getting drunk together and it's natural the style would begin to reflect this, becoming itself clumsy and stumbling.

    And on either side of this "clumsy" line, Bukowski insults Becker, calling him first an asshole and then a fool. And of course Becker himself has already taken Chuck down a couple notches ("sounds like you've been rejected" and "you're too bitter and you hate everything"). So there's a definite separation building up between these two characters. Hence it's Becker's wine vs. Chuck's wine. They're no longer getting drunk together and instead are spiraling into their separate worlds of drunk.

    Great writer... (though not one I'd personally care to emulate :-D )
     
  3. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    Hi, PR,

    Great answer and you've taught me that I can sometimes miss these things. It kind of makes a little more sense, although I didn't quite get the impression they were becoming inebriated (they'd only had a couple of glasses when all's said and done). But coupled with the Hank vs Becker thing, I concede to your theory.

    Anyway, great writer as you say. Not the easiest thing I've ever read - a bit of a slog at times and the airshow scene seemed totally implausible (I dunno, maybe the airshows back in the 30s did have that many accidents) - but I wanted to keep turning pages and that's all that matters, isn't it? May give Post Office a go next.

    Thanks again for the reply.
     
  4. P R Crawford
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    P R Crawford Member

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    Naw, you're right - drunk's too strong a word for it - though I imagine Bukowski drinking wine from two pint mugs - no "flutes" for him.... :D
     
  5. CeeCee Murphy
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    CeeCee Murphy New Member

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    I think quite often, regardless of who the writer may be, individual sentences can seem clunky or not to flow exactly right...I completely agree with P R, when you come across these, or at least what I do, when I do - is to re-read the sentence, consider the context and the story line from a couple of sentences prior to the "clunky" one, and it generally does make sense, all considered. In this instance, I again agree with P R I think Bukowski's sentence is meant to infer that he was getting a little tottie.

    And do you really want to bang your head against that wall, wondering WHY writers do what they do? Just joshing you, I know your question was posed out of curiousity and the quest for knowledge....I just couldn't resist because I entered this post expecting to post a reply about Why I write....... 'cause if I don't, my head will explode with all these thoughts! It's like a sickness or something - I have to pull the words out, form them into a story and get them down on paper.......NOW I just have to figure out who wants to read what I've written!
     
  6. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    Don't we all? ;)

    I think anyone with a strong desire to write creatively feels this way, but sometimes, at least for me, the blank page terrifies me and I find it easier to do something else instead. I'm slowly learning to stop beating myself up over my writing, and now only write when I feel the inspiration is there. I've also stopped caring about plot - or at least thinking I need to create a complex one. Novels are evolving all the time and some of the highest praised stuff of recent years has had little or no (obvious) plot at all. Erlend Loe's Naive. Super springs to mind. More so, I'm rapidly realising that I don't particular enjoy reading novels with strong, complex plots anyway.

    I'm not suggesting for one second this lark is easy, but since I've changed my attitude and changed my style to that of a very simple one, I find the words are flowing more naturally and that I'm, albeit very slowly, beginning to find my own voice.
     
  7. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Maybe it was done for effect. It could be like this:

    I poured him a drink. Then I poured myself a drink. Then I just poured two more drinks. After that it was just pouring and drinking.

    I used the same words repeatedly. However, it conveys a different meaning.
     

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