RARA-AVIS: God is in the details, not the footnotes....

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 12 Dec 2001

>I wrote earlier you are not an easy author to read because you assume the
>reader will know what you do and don't feel the need to explain. Any reader
>who does not have that knowledge, is missing something you intended to
>impart. ...I guess your approach could be called Joycean. Maybe some
>day you, or someone you commission, could put out reader's guides to
>your books so everybody could appreciate the significance
>of every detail..

Or, like, read and learn. No matter what someone writes, someone will miss it. Where would it stop? Street maps for people who don't live in the city the story is set? A dictionary/glossary at the back for big words? Annotations and footnotes?

Part of the appeal of fiction is the illusion of stepping into another world, or at least seeing the same world through someone else's vision. That's difficult to do when the author acts like a chatty tour guide who stops to explain everything to everyone.

Anyway, I don't think the books in question are that rife with hidden meanings and coded references (or maybe they are, and even idiots like me can enjoy them). I don't know half the songs he mentions, but it hasn't stopped me from getting a kick out of the local and musical references.

Some people toss in words like "Joycean" and expect us to know what they mean, and some people refer to an Al Green song. What's the diff?

This whole topic interests me, because I take a similar approach. My stuff takes place in a city most of the people on this list would find "foreign." I don't want to play tour guide either (at least in so blatant a fashion) or appear like some exclusive snot, I just want to tell my stories in the best setting I know, with places that are real to me. I'm not going to dumb it down, and hopefully, I'm not going to lord it over anyone, either. hopefully, context will fill up any little unfamiliarity holes in my writing.

But my fiction will (and does) unapologetically feature local references, "foreign" brand names, musical shout-outs and even -- GASP!!! -- words in French!

Run! Hide! While there's still time! Before it's too late!


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