Tuesday, April 16, 2013

They Don't Write 'Em Like That Anymore

 My prayers go out to all whose lives were touched (and in some instances changed forever) by the events in Boston yesterday.

Continuing to celebrate the launch of my medical thriller, Stress Test, with appearances on a number of blogs, as well as a giveaway of a Nook HD. Click here for more details on the giveaway. Yesterday I was featured on the blog of Jordyn Redwood, where a comment gets you a chance for a copy of Stress Test. Hope you'll drop by. I also am interviewed by Susan Sleeman on The Suspense Zone. Learn how I almost became a Canadian citizen. And Stress Test and I are featured on the blog of Rita Gerlach.

Now to the topic at hand. I have to confess that some of my favorite authors are those who have passed on. I can read, re-read, and read yet again the works of the late Robert B. Parker, Donald Westlake, John D. MacDonald, and Ross Thomas (pictured), just to name a few. They hold my attention and carry me forward, even when the surprise has been taken away by reading them previously.

As writers, we're told to observe certain rules, and those are good guidelines when learning the craft. But sometimes it's better to be talented in your choice of words than to slavishly adhere to guidelines. Take this example from Ross Thomas' classic Twilight At Mac's Place:

"Not late, am I?" Undean asked, trying not to stare at the almost perfect face that featured a pair of soft warm gray eyes. The gray of her eyes complemented the natural frosting in her dark hair and almost matched the color of her cashmere sweater.

We're told to avoid adjectives and adverbs, but Thomas uses them both to paint a perfect picture.

I enjoy modern writers, don't get me wrong, but sometimes when I re-read books that were written a decade or two ago, I have to think to myself, "They don't write 'em like that anymore." What do you think?


Unknown said...

Richard, I almost agree. I too have favorites from the past that I go back to again and again for the sheer joy of their wordsmithing. But I don't think that talent has entirely died out. There are still writers like Mark Helprin, Lief Enger, Marilynne Robinson. In the mystery genre you have Martha Grimes, P. D. James, Laurie R. King, Ruth Rendell. All of them are masters of words as well as story.

Personally, I think adjectives are underrated. They can be overused or badly used, but I don't know how one can paint a picture without them.

Unknown said...

BTW, that "Unknown" comment was from Katherine Hyde. Don't know why Google wouldn't give me a name.

Richard Mabry said...

Katherine, Sorry that Blogger preferred that you remain anonymous.
I agree--there are still some great writers alive today, but I thought it interesting that when I go to my bookshelves to find a book to re-read, it's generally by a writer now deceased.
Appreciate your comment.