Friday, November 10, 2006

Writing Tutorial

#39 (Special Doug Weight edition): "The War of the End of the World" by Mario Vargas Llosa

This one took me a loooooong time to read -- I started it back in the summer.

Head and shoulders above everything, it's got a great lesson for writers. There are roughly one hillion jillion characters in TWOTEOTW, and every single one is fully-realized and fleshed out. There are some nasty, nasty folks in it, but they're still human. I've read far too many books over the years that pretty much divide the characters into "good" and "bad" camps, and the bad guys are just hateful cardboard standups. Everyone who's starting to veer that way in their writing should read this and see how a pro does it.

TWOTEOTW (even THAT is too much to type) is a retelling of the story of Canudos, a religious and rebellious community founded in Brazil's backwater in the 19th century. Its creation drew the unloving attention of the government, which launched a series of bloody assaults to wipe it out.

It's not a perfect book by any means -- I think it's far too long (remember when you were a kid and went to see "Out of Africa," and it got to a point where you said "ok, that seems to be a logical end," but it kept going, and you were squirming in your seat? You don't? Ok, maybe it's just me) and somewhat padded, and there's some rather unsettling treatment of women. But despite the occasional slog, it was a pretty great read. And after the length of time it took, I actually feel a sense of accomplishment today.

1 comment:

Kynan W. Iwouldsodostreep said...

Not me. When I saw Out Of Africa, I just wished it would go on and on and on. Oh, I was just swept away.