January 8th, 2019 by Jan

Over the holidays my friend, Tamsin was reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. So, monkey see, monkey do, I went to the library and checked it out. I figure, if my friends like a book, I will too.

I’ve had it for a week now, and have not made much headway. It is hard to follow and I’m not exactly sure what is happening, but I love how the author writes. Perry’s words grab me, often enough to keep me in it!

I marvel at her writing more than the story! Which brings me to wonder… does a good writer, automatically tell a good story?

I’m only 80 pages in and all I know is someone has died, and there is a son. Honestly, I can’t tell you more about this book. The Essex Serpent has been mentioned several times. But, I’m not sure if the serpent is a work of art, or a creature haunting the town. I don’t seem to care though, as the writing is delicious and different.

An example:
“Cora attempted to conquer her scowl. Some bullnecked country curate all Calvin and correction, and his parsimonious wife! She could not, offhand, think of anything worse, and inferred from Martha’s rigidity at her side that her feelings were shared. But still—it would be useful to have some local knowledge of Essex geography. What’s more, it was not necessarily the case that a man of the cloth would be ignorant of modern science: among her favorite books was a thesis from an anonymous Essex rector on the high antiquity of the earth, which crisply dispensed with notions of calculating the date of creation from Old Testament genealogies.”

Now, I just opened the book and randomly picked a paragraph.

When I went to desktop publishing school, one of the main lessons they tried to teach was, no matter what you are creating, be it a poster, or book cover, the customer should not have to struggle to understand it.

But, then I met Marian Bantjes. I saw that it was fun to be challenged to understand some projects. I find I am willing to work for understandings, for the price of a person’s artistry.

Throwing words onto a page is hard. Not all writers, craft an easy story.

I really like how Sarah Perry writes, and even if I can’t follow her in story, I’m not willing to abandon this book. Her words are too scrumptious.

3 thoughts on “writingvsstorytelling

  1. Laurie

    Plus, at a nickel a word she’s getting paid pretty well to be overly wordy! Although I do enjoy reading a lot, I guess I’m much more of a “get to the point” kind of reader.

    1. Ken

      I’m with you. I’ve just finished a book where the author took 5 pages to say that textiles were a big part of the Industrial revolution. I actually said out loud, “Come on already”.


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