Monday, October 24, 2011

Nightwoods -- Charles Frazier

I knew this was a Literary Novel right away because there are no quotation marks in it. Frazier uses dashes for quotations beginning a line and nothing at all for quotations that come within a paragraph. I don't see the point, myself. Never having read either of Frazier's earlier books, I don't know if this is his usual practice, but I don't care since I doubt I'll be reading anything else he writes.

Let me confess. I got this book because of a review I read in the Daily Beast. Here's what hooked me: "From the get go, Nightwoods pegs the speedometer needle into the red and keeps it there for the duration. It is a terrifying, exhilarating thrill ride of a book." The reviewer must not have read the same book I did. I found the first two hundred pages of the book very slow going, indeed. Maybe it's the faux Faulkner prose style. Or maybe it's the fact that Frazier doesn't seem to have heard about showing rather than telling. There's more telling in this book than you're likely to encounter elsewhere. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I like tellling. I just don't like it with a lot of overwritten purple prose. The last 50 pages or so, which seem pretty much ripped from Night of the Hunter pick things up a bit, but not enough.

I'm probably completely wrong about this, so don't let me deter you from reading the book yourself. Check it out and see what you think.

11 comments:

Kelly Robinson said...

Think I'll just watch Night of the Hunter again.

Randy Johnson said...

Cold Mountain threw me off with no quotation marks. It struck me as pretentious rather than literary.

Anonymous said...

You are a little copycat, having ripped off a couple of other ignorant "reviews" of this really fine novel. I have no trouble without the quotation marks. What a silly thing to get hung up on. This book is so wonderful, and most of my friends who have read it couldn't put it down. Haven't followed your comments before but it's a shame snide little comments might discourage anyone from picking up this great book. Oh, and as far as Night of the Hunter goes, how about both that and Nightwoods being grounded in fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel. You need a little lesson in literary and folk tale history before you write with an assumed authority you can't back up.

Brent McKee said...

If Mr. (or Ms.) Anonymous wants to be taken seriously he (or she) should have the good grace to sign their comments with their own name. As it stands I will happily take Bill's comments over those of Mr. (Ms.) Anonymous because I know his name and I know both his work and respect his opinions. I don't know what credentials Mr. (Ms.) Anonymous brings to the table.

Gerard said...

From the Sep 15 BOOKLIST which I read today, "taut narrative of love and suspense...gritty background of bootlegging and violence...characters are rich and unforgettable, the prose almost lyrical. This is Charles Frazier at his best."

I didn't believe it.

Bill Crider said...

Check it out and see. I could easily be wrong. The book's just not to my taste.

Cap'n Bob said...

Come on, Charles Frazier, er, I mean Anonymous, get wise. Bill Crider's credentials are impeccable and I'd value his opinion over that of a nameless coward.

Bud said...

Well, even if you're "guilty" as per Anonymous Twit, your opinion is good enough for me when mystery/crime books are concerned.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I listened to the first 150 pages of this and was very disappointed. Mr. Frazier never met an adjective he didn't like.

I think he had a good story to tell but it was buried under an avalanche of words.

George said...

I'm with Randy: COLD MOUNTAIN was a pretentious novel that somehow managed to catch on with the reading public. I'm not a Frazier fan, either.

Avi player said...

I like the book! I wonder where are so many haters coming from? However I guess it's because of popularity.