From: Rene Ribic ( rribic@optusnet.com.au)
Date: 04 Jul 2002

I'm currently reading Edwin Torres' CARLITO'S WAY, which I'm enjoying so far (rare-birds may remember the film version by Brian de Palma). It's written in the first person & very much in New York Puerto Rican dialect
(with liberal doses of Afro-American & Italo-American). IMO it works very well - one certainly doesn't get the sense that the protagonist, Carlito Brigante, is a fool by any stretch of the imagination nor that the use of dialect is an indication of lower mental faculties. The narration flows pretty smoothly & I don't feel that the use of the dialect intrudes on the story, in fact it gives the narrative an easy conversational tone that is very readable. I guess it boils down to the writer's skill in making the language seem both real while at the same time perhaps judicially choosing which words to spell phonetically & how often to do it without jarring on the reader. In that area, I think Chester Himes also had a skilful touch when it came to portraying dialect without it becoming a chore to read. Many of the old pulp writers were particularly poor at portraying the dialects of ethnic minorities but I don't think it's inevitable that attempts to capture dialect will be unsuccessful, as demonstrated by the 2 authors I've mentioned. Anyone else read anything by Torres & what didja tink (I mean think, bloody spell checker)?


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