Calling all Writers and Readers: Plot vs. Mind-Blowing Prose

Good evening, wordpressians. I hope you are well, laughing, doing what you do best. I am full of home-cooked burgers and fries, and am ready for some alone time.

I was thinking about this today, and wondering what you all think. As a reader, there is absolutely nothing I love more than reading a novel which reads like straight-up poetry. Wait, let me reiterate: GOOD poetry. Not a bunch of flowery, over-pompous, self indulgent bologna, but read, solid prose. Like Fitzgerald, Rilke, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Stephen King and Murakami. Where one could linger over the words, the lines, like wine, hold it within your mouth. Let it sink in through your glands, your pores, and the skin of your thrilled fucking fingers. Ohhh . . . yes. That’s where it’s at for me; what this art is all about.

Check this out:

“Sitting in the flickering light of the candles on this kerchief of sand, on this village square, we waited in the night. We were waiting for the rescuing dawn – or for the Moors. Something, I know not what, lent this night a savor of Christmas. We told stories, we joked, we sang songs. In the air there was that slight fever that reigns over a gaily prepared feast. And yet we were infinitely poor. Wind, sand, and stars. The austerity of Trappists. But on this badly lighted cloth, a handful of men who possessed nothing in the world but their memories were sharing invisible riches. ”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryWind, Sand, and Stars

 

And this from the same novel (one every reader muct read):

 

“You, Bedouin of Libya who saved our lives, though you will dwell forever in my memory yet I shall never be able to recapture your features. You are Humanity and your face comes into my mind simply as man incarnate. You, our beloved fellowman, did not know who we might be, and yet you recognized us without fail. And I, in my turn, shall recognize you in the faces of all mankind. You came towards me in an aureole of charity and magnanimity bearing the gift of water. All my friends and all my enemies marched towards me in your person. It did not seem to me that you were rescuing me: rather did it seem that you were forgiving me. And I felt I had no enemy left in all the world.”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryWind, Sand, and Stars

 

The romance of the words in books such as these is more romance than most romance novels hold—in plain view—today. But this is coming from the Shakespeare geek (no greater writer than he!).  And yes, I am a poet, and for me it’s more what lies between the lines—the unseen questions that bubble up from the visible words. I like beautiful descriptions (but nothing trite please; that metaphor has to snap!), and philosophical poetic prose, over fast moving plot or tripe. If I’m going to invest my precious time (did I mention I have five young kids?!) into a book, it’s going to have to leave my mind utterly breathless. I want to swoon; spend time inside each line as if they were lovers (cheesy…perhaps…but this is really how I feel!); I want to know the author intimately through the words they have written for me.

And as a writer?

I write what comes, and hope I do it well. But more than anything I wish to connect. First with the divine process of the writing itself, second, with those reading my work. I guess it’s all about who you are, one’s sum total of every memory, and which story decided to come forward.

There are some though (I know many) who prefer the plot driven stories, and can’t be bothered with philosophical, poetic tone. It’s all about who we are. But . . . when you find that perfect book that has everything? Plot, likable characters, words that make ya go, mmmmm! Then, magic grows. And somewhere, another work of art is born. At least that’s my romantic take on it: breeding through reading.

Hey, I think I kinda like that.

One more quote to leave you with. (Murakami is such a perfect medium between literary and plot. )

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore

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