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

From: George Upper (
Date: 15 Dec 2001

--- Kevin Burton Smith
<> wrote:
> 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.

I'm going to get a little off-topic here for a paragraph, but I'll try to tie it all in at the end:

one reason I believe that the Tolkien and Star Trek franchises (and, to a lesser extent, Star Wars) have been so enormously popular is the amount of work that went on behind the scenes, shaping history and characterization and so forth, that the reader / viewer never learns (well, not unless he/she reads all the appendices and the reader's guides and tell-all books, etc.). Somehow that depth of background makes it into the narrative--don't ask me how, but it does--and the reader senses it. Tolkien, for crying out loud, invented three or four languages in the process of writing THE LORD OF THE RING, as well as hundreds (maybe thousands) of years of fictional history.

I've been trying to think of a hard-boiled example to cite here, but there really isn't anything in the hard-boiled world that's generated the same following as Tolkien, is there?

As for allusions or depth of detail, even when it goes unexplained, I say the more, the better. Until life comes with a guidebook, the lack of explanation is a heck of a lot more realistic. And that's what hard-boiled is all about, right? Well, sorta.


===== George C. Upper III, Editor The Lightning Bell Poetry Journal

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