Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Finding Terrific Writing in Unusual Places: Red Seas Under Red Skies

 Sometimes I worry that people see me as a bit of a literature snob. My favorites include such literary giants as Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Joyce, Shakespeare, and McCarthy. But I also am a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy literature. I love sitting down and just enjoying a fast paced adventure. Recently I have been enjoying Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch. In many cases, fantasy books are not written very well. I mean they convey action fine enough, but the beauty of the sentence is lacking. Not true with Lynch. He is an accomplished writer that has perfected his craft, he just chooses to write fantasy novels. Here is a nice paragraph from chapter two.
"Jean cleared the barrier from the third-floor hallway, left a few more coins (from Locke's purse) with the bemused innkeeper, and bustled about the room, allowing some of the smell of drunken enclosure to evaporate out the open window. Upon reflection, he went down to the bar and came back with a glass decanter of water."
This paragraph is, in essence, two sentences. The first is far more complicated than the second. We have a list in the first sentence: Jean is accomplishing three tasks. Lynch uses the oxford comma before the conjunction--my man! The sentence becomes slightly more complicated though with the final phrase attached to the list with a comma. And he has some great 50 cent words in here: bemused, enclosure, evaporate, and decanter. If this were a lesser writer the amount of attention would not have been given to such an insignificant paragraph. I have read quite a bit of bad writing in fantasy and Sci Fi novels and it is so refreshing when you find someone who is a master of his craft. 
Not what I though Lynch would look like. See, you learn new things all the time.

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