RARA-AVIS: Re: David Peace

From: David Corbett (davidcorbettauthor@gmail.com)
Date: 29 May 2010

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    I'm finding merit in everyone's remarks. Joy, I too would not want to read Peace's work based on this review or in particular the samples of his work provided. And though I agree with Steve that Patrick targets graphic novels too broadly (I'm reading the Gregg Hurwitz contribution to The Punisher series right now -- Girls in White Dresses -- and loving it; I also greatly enjoyed Charlie Huston's work with both the Moon Knight and Deathlok series -- smart, concise, witty writing), I have to agree with Patrick, given the samples provided, that the writing, with its identified lack of irony and Lawrencian repetitions, is heavy-handed and a tad on the pompous side.

    HOWEVER, I also know that any writing carved out of its context inherently creates a false impression. Writing is a lot more like music or even painting than we often admit. It creates fields of meaning that are generated cumulatively, impressionistically, so that a group of words cannot be fully appreciated sliced away from those that came before and those that come after. It's not about ideas, it's about feeling, impressions, and those are created over time in the telling, not in discreet little chunks that can be amputated then cultured to survive on their own. I know that too sounds ponderous -- and I'm not being taken out of context (yipes!) -- but the major task of rewriting and editing is to know what has already been said, often just because of the nuance generated from words already chosen (or left out), the rhythms of one's sentences, pacing -- and yes, repetition. I'll confess, however, I believe the reader is more actively engaged through omission than repetition;
      the latter all too often commits the cardinal sin of telling the reader what to think or feel.

    I like Ellroy a lot -- White Jazz is a favorite -- but I have to admit the telegraphic/fragmented style after a while begins to seem more like a habit than a technique. Every now and then, though, a brilliant scene will snap you back. Perhaps this is true of Peace as well. (Ellroy also employs wit and irony to great effect, tactics Peace apparently eschews.)

    And the use of CAPITAL LETTERS TO SUGGEST MADNESS was used previously, deftly and -- yes -- ironically by Peter Carey in Theft (a book I admire and recommend highly).

    David Corbett www.davidcorbett.com

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