Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cheap thrills and guilty pleasures

I've just got back from a holiday in France - hence no blogging for a while - with a cold that turned into a sinus infection. Feeling low a day or two ago I got into a hot bath with a novel by Jeffery Deaver. If there is a writer who is the absolute polar opposite of Virginia Woolf or James Joyce, he would be a pretty good contender. His novels are virtually pure plot and it is a bit mean of me to refer to him as a guilty pleasure because of their kind they are so well done. They are the verbal equivalent of cottage pie or macaroni cheese for supper - no effort is required on the part of the consumer, plenty though I am well aware on the part of the cook and the same will be true of Deaver. They are very inventive, move at a terrific lick, and he's a better writer than Dan Brown, who I really can't read. The other writer for days when I feel really weedy is Agatha Christie, who is a more sedate precursor of Jeffery Deaver. I can only read those if I can't remember who dun it.
For my serious reading at the moment I am reading Flannery O'Connor's letters and am so impressed by her, especially her lack of self-pity. Her life was cut short by lupus at the age of 39 and even as a young woman in her twenties, her life was very circumscribed by the disease. Yet these very limitations allowed her to concentrate on her considerable talent as a writer. She lived a fairly isolated life with her mother on a farm in Georgia and much of her contact with other writers was through these fascinating letters. Chapeau! as they say in France to salute an achievement.

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