RE: RARA-AVIS: black cherry blues

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 04 Feb 2002

>carrie is mean to james lee burke:
>I'm not a big fan of the overdescription thing, especially when
>it's of nature and not, say, a neighborhood in a city where the
>landscape says something important about the inhabitants.
>A poet friend of mine calls this kind of stuff "gratuitous
>scenery" and tends to make big X's through it in her paperbacks.

hmm... well, in a way i can see your point. the novel could have proceeded without all that. but i have just a couple comments.

ONE, i think one of the points that burke was making was that nature says as much about the people who live in it as the city neighborhood says about the city folk.

TWO, these descriptive passages we're talking about were often two or three short sentences, and never more than a modest paragraph. this is not even close to the full page and beyond sorta stuff you would get from some of the oldies like tolstoy, karamazov, stendhal, dickens, etc. i find that sorta writing tedious and difficult, although i don't deny its value. hey, they didn't have tv back then, so the author was substituting words for the 42-inch big screen in your living room.

and THREE (snuck another one in on you, didn't i? haha.), there is no way that i would ever describe those passages as "gratuitous scenery". they established a mood. thru metaphor they foreshadowed. they added depth and color; they were atlanta burning in the background while rhett steals a kiss from scarlett.

so there! ;-)


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