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Constant Reader > is russo literary?

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Joe Mossa | 126 comments
i can t find our -literary writing posts-so i started a new topic. i would like to read some opinions as to richard russo s status as a writer. i love him cause i can relate to his characters and their lives in small towns. i love his flawed father characters. i wonder if richard s father was so flawed ? thanks..joe


Ruth | 8690 comments Joe, I moved this down to the Constant Reader folder, where it should go.

Carry on.


Joe Mossa | 126 comments
wow,you guys are observant,dedicated,..thanks..joe


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Joe wrote: "
i can t find our -literary writing posts-so i started a new topic. i would like to read some opinions as to richard russo s status as a writer. i love him cause i can relate to his characters an..."


He's not "literary" to me, but that doesn't mean I don't think he's a good writer. I do. He's not my cup of tea, but I think he's a good writer. I know a lot of people who enjoy his books tremendously.




Marian (gramma) | 113 comments Richard Russo won a Pulitzer prize for his novel "Empire Falls". That alone would qualify him as a "literary Writer" but all his books are good.


Mary Ellen | 1168 comments This is why the question, "Is X literary?" is problematic: we each start from our own perspective on what "literary" is. One must define the term, even if for that discussion alone.

So I will just say that I think Russo is a good writer and that his writing aims at being more than just a pass-the-time beach read.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Marian wrote: "Richard Russo won a Pulitzer prize for his novel "Empire Falls". That alone would qualify him as a "literary Writer" but all his books are good."

I don't think winning the Pulitzer Prize qualifies any writer for the term "literary." I don't think it even qualifies a writer as being a good writer, though I do think Richard Russo is a very good writer, despite the fact that he's not one of my favorites.

I suppose we all do have our own perceptions of what "literary" is, but in the publishing world, which is the world in which I work, it's a writer who concentrates more on character development than on plot, to put it broadly. And someone who writes very, very well. (Which doesn't make it "right," just the definition I work from.) In the publishing word, literary writers usually don't sell as many books as mainstream writers. I suppose that's because people love a good story - me included. Dan Brown is definitely not a literary writer, but he sells a LOT of books. Helen Dunmore is a literary writer and she doesn't sell one iota as many books as Brown or Grisham or King, none of whom are literary.

Though I'm not fond of Richard Russo's writing, I do agree with Mary Ellen - it's not a fluffy beach read. But even a beach read, if well written, is something I think we can all enjoy from time-to-time. I love Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series and I think those books concentrate on plot rather than character. I also like Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Rmotswe series and while Smith delves into character, I think the books are more plot driven and I don't know anyone who would call them literary.

I think both mainstream and literary have their place and that we need both to balance our reading.



Joe Mossa | 126 comments
i am loving richard s NOBODY S FOOL very much this 3rd time. i read his books again after 2 or 3 years. there are few if any authors i can read over again, some of john irving s books qualify,OWNEN MEANY,parts of GARP. i was noticing the psychology in richard s book today. i love him for personal reasons,it s true. i have tried to find similar authors and have had little success-reynolds price-too sexy,siddons -too gushy,irving-too weird. i am writing down names from these posts-mcquad,trevor,dunmore. i will continue my search for russo like writers. i also love pat conroy. it doesn t matter whether they are literary or not but i love them both and other books pale by comparison. i hate dan brown but enjoy john grisham. i think grisham actually tries to have themes while writing mysteries and i appreciate that in a writer. jodi picoult does the same thing and good for her although she causes too much emotional suffering for me. each time we drive to our old home town,300 miles away,we drive through clyde ohio called WINESBURG OHIO in sherwood anderson s great book. if he was great, russo is great. thanks again great literary readers,writers you all. joe


A.J. I suppose we all do have our own perceptions of what "literary" is, but in the publishing world, which is the world in which I work, it's a writer who concentrates more on character development than on plot, to put it broadly. And someone who writes very, very well.

But that's simply not true -- else Borges, for example, who is unconcerned with character, would not be considered "literary" in the publishing world. Which he is.

As I said on the other thread, we have competing definitions of literariness, with the result that a writer can be literary without being literary.

The entire discussion quickly becomes somewhat pointless. Rather than applying "literary" as some badge of merit, I think it's more useful to consider literary writing as a big tent that's most easily defined by its failure to be anything else.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments A.J. wrote: "I suppose we all do have our own perceptions of what "literary" is, but in the publishing world, which is the world in which I work, it's a writer who concentrates more on character development tha..."

You don't find many thematic writers like Borges.

I should have clarified what I wrote. That was my fault. In the publishing world today, a character driven novel would be considered more "literary" while a plot driven one would be considered more mainstream, but there are always exceptions.




TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Joe wrote: "
i am loving richard s NOBODY S FOOL very much this 3rd time. i read his books again after 2 or 3 years. there are few if any authors i can read over again, some of john irving s books qualify,OW..."


I agree, Joe. It doesn't matter if other people love the writers we love or not. Books are meant to be enjoyed (of course they have other uses, too, but the primary ones are enjoyment and enlightenment). I think we should all read the authors who entertain and enlighten us, the authors who fulfill our needs when it comes to a book. For some people, that will definitely be Dan Brown, so I don't begrudge him his popularity. For others, it will be far less popular authors like Helen Dunmore. We're not all alike, so I think it's great that there are so many different kinds of books and authors in the world.




A.J. Yes, you don't find many writers like Borges (for which, personally, I'm thankful), but this is the hazard of trying to define what's literary and what's not. The next exception is always just around the corner.

It gets to be a problem when we fall into the thinking that literary = meritorious. That's where you get the accusations of snobbery and the knock-down, drag-out fights. Which only serve to discourage people from talking about books.

So I agree, read what you like, and don't worry about badges of merit.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments I'm another who's thankful there aren't many writers like Borges.


Newengland | 749 comments If we're collecting thankfuls, I'll give thanks that there aren't many "literary" writers like Wm. Faulkner, Henry James, and "Who's Afraid of?" Virginia Wolff.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Three of my very favorites. LOL I want more of them. Literature is so subjective.


message 16: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 29, 2009 09:48AM) (new)

A.J. wrote: It gets to be a problem when we fall into the thinking that literary = meritorious. That's where you get the accusations of snobbery and the knock-down, drag-out fights. Which only serve to discourage people from talking about books.

Yes. In a nutshell.

Newengland wrote: If we're collecting thankfuls, I'll give thanks that there aren't many "literary" writers like Wm. Faulkner, Henry James, and "Who's Afraid of?" Virginia Wolff.

Faulkner and Woolf are two of my favorites. OTOH, ones like Joyce are definitely off my list completely.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Joyce is another of my beloveds. I think his short story "The Dead" is one of the best ever written. And I'm one of those persons who adores Ulysses.


Theresa | 545 comments For me, a literary writer uses both plot and character to communicate something greater - a philosophy, in the broadest sense of the word, AND does so having developed writing skills sufficient to have a style of his or her own. Character development alone is not sufficient, else psychological case studies would qualify as literary writing.

Newengland, in another post you use the name Henrietta as a means of insulting Henry James - I don't take issue with the opinion, I'm neutral on James and even if I were not, to each his own, but the form of the insult is interesting. Is he deemed a bad writer because he is concerned with "feminine" topics (and therefore no one that is concerned with such issues can be a good writer); or is it just that calling someone by a woman's name is sufficient diss in and of itself?

Theresa, who has nothing against a good plot-driven read every now and then; but finds Jodi Picoult unreadable, despite her interesting topics, because of her plodding writing style.


Newengland | 749 comments Is he deemed a bad writer because he is concerned with "feminine" topics (and therefore no one that is concerned with such issues can be a good writer); or is it just that calling someone by a woman's name is sufficient diss in and of itself?

Let's see, do I choose Trap A or Trap B? Give me a few minutes (or a few weeks) and I'll get back to you on that. Or better yet, read it in a light-hearted way. Henry's been gone long enough to have some fun with, no?


Theresa | 545 comments Don't get me wrong, I would not dream of stifling any humor, or even any opinion. But I do like to dissect things, deconstruction is me. And "Henrietta James" is an invitation to deconstruct.

Theresa


Newengland | 749 comments Fair enough. My older brother liked to deconstruct, too -- usually the sandcastles I spent hours building at the beach. And occasionally my face.

I won't share my nickname for him.


Theresa | 545 comments Hmmmm, not very subtle, NE! I am the oldest of nine and well-practiced at keeping kids in check, though I don't believe I ever tore up any sand castles or faces. My siblings sometimes refer to me as Mother Theresa. I am not sure if it is a compliment, a complaint, or merely an observation on the role of the oldest girl in large families.

Theresa


message 23: by Newengland (last edited Nov 29, 2009 01:41PM) (new)

Newengland | 749 comments I'm losing ground here. Really, Theresa, no need to read into my remarks too much (they're typically shallow -- or at least shallowesque).

I just saw a chance to have some fun with the word "deconstruct" (which I am NOT a fan of -- opinion), and I always jump at the chance to have some fun at the expense of the older bro (though the account is still strongly in his favor).

As for you, you seem a nice enough type, whether you like Hen. James or no. Heck, anyone who would exchange this many posts with the likes of me MUST be pretty cool (not to mention patient), non?

A fellow Mother Theresa fan,
NE

P.S. NINE KIDS? God bless your mother!


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments I think life's too short to read books one doesn't really like. I don't like Dan Brown's writing and I think anyone would be hard pressed to call him "literary" and no one here has, of course, but I think if someone feels his books add to their day, then he or she should read them and enjoy them.


message 25: by Theresa (last edited Nov 30, 2009 02:10AM) (new)

Theresa | 545 comments Just having some fun, NE, and maybe trying to stir up a bit of heated discussion. EDIT: I meant that I (emphasis) was having fun and that I (emphasis redux) was trying to stir up a discussion. That read as if I was making an observation on NE's motives, but really it was all about me.

Deconstruction was the mode when I was at university. I'm not so much a fan of the literary branch, but deconstructionist ideas are quite useful and interesting in my field of archaeology. After all, by definition when doing archaeology one necessarily deconstructs the subject of one's efforts.

I'm not really a fan of Mother Theresa. Or of Theresa of Lisieux (the Little Flower, ack). Teresa of Avila was pretty darn cool though. And I really am entirely neutral on Hank.

And, finally, nine kids = blended family, so my mother was not personally responsible for producing all nine.

Theresa


message 26: by Theresa (last edited Dec 01, 2009 10:41PM) (new)

Theresa | 545 comments Perhaps we should list some books we have thoroughly enjoyed that are decidedly not literary. I nominate Bridget Jones Diary, et seq. Also, John Le Carre.

Theresa


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe series.


Newengland | 749 comments Tom Perrotta's Bad Haircut (stories) and Joe College (novel). Loved them both, but they don't put on any airs.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series, used to love them though I haven't read any in years.


Barbara | 5086 comments I liked Bridget Jones Diary too, Theresa. And, I loved all of Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski detective novels.


Sarah Hart | 705 comments Second the Eliz. George and LeCarre; most of Stephen King. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series. I find that well-written "non-literary" novels are what I want to read when life becomes overwhelming, and I don't have much mental capacity to spare for "attentive" reading. I am reading for pure enjoyment, escape, and plot. However, even then, I cannot abide what I consider bad writing.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Sarah wrote: "Second the Eliz. George and LeCarre; most of Stephen King. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series. I find that well-written "non-literary" novels are what I want to read when life becomes overw..."

I agree 100%, Sarah. When I want to just relax and read to escape, I don't want a literary novel. I want something lighter, more plot-driven, but like you, I can't abide bad writing. My favorite escapist novels are the Precious Ramotswe and Isabel Dalhousie mysteries and sometimes the Inspector Lynley mysteries. I'll read any really good mystery as long as it's well written.




Sarah Hart | 705 comments Yes, Gabrielle, your last line is me to a 't'. The problem is, once I've found a good 'line' of mysteries, I devour them and am then left bereft. I start to figure that there aren't any more good ones out there. I cannot stand the "cozies," Cornwell leaves me cold...Barb has recommended the Precious Ramotswe ones to me before, and I have one on my shelf. I think the name has been the deterrent. The word 'precious' seems 'cozy' to me! Other mystery writers that are good for a quick, escapist read are Robert Parker and Michael Connelly. I just finished a book by Morag Joss that was outstanding, and I want to go back and read her series now (the book I read was a stand-alone).


Ruth | 8690 comments OTOH, I seldom read anything but the literary stuff. Even for relaxing. I get irritated with popular novels because they don't exhibit the kind of thing I find most absorbing. Not their fault. They're written with other goals in mind. Nevertheless, I find myself muttering under my breath.


message 35: by TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (last edited Nov 30, 2009 09:40AM) (new)

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) | 3817 comments Sarah wrote: "Yes, Gabrielle, your last line is me to a 't'. The problem is, once I've found a good 'line' of mysteries, I devour them and am then left bereft. I start to figure that there aren't any more good..."

I like the cozies. LOL I adore Miss Marple. Oh, I can't stand Patricia Cornwell, either. There was a time, about ten years ago, when I read a few of her books, but I had the same reaction as you - they left me cold.

Ruth, I almost never read the popular novels, either, except for the few mysteries I've listed. Most of the popular novels just make me mad.




Sarah Hart | 705 comments Do you include Christie in your list of cozies? I have loved her since I was a teenager. I probably reread all her books multiple times then, and reread them periodically. I go through phases of enjoying Jane, then switch to Hercules. I also enjoyed the few books featuring Tommy and Tuppence. She's classic. I just started reading Lawrence Block, based on somebody's recommendation here. Theresa, maybe? I liked the first Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery I read of his.


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

Sarah, if you like Lawrence Block, you might try his Keller [the laid back hit man:] series.


Sarah Hart | 705 comments Excellent; thanks, Pontalba. I saw that he had several series. I think the other one I saw featured a character named Matthew Scudder. A PI, I think.


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

"Yes, you don't find many writers like Borges (for which, personally, I'm thankful), "

Huzzahs, A.J.! Huzzahs!

It's not many forums I'm in where I can say that, but here I can. So I will.

To me he is too cute by half. And his pseudo-mathematical jiggering just sends me up the wall.


Jean | 170 comments Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder is my favorite of his characters. I've read all of his books featuring this character, startings with 1001 Ways to Die. (or a very title.)

I love mysteries and the title of my current favorite is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Other authors I enjoy are Elizabeth George, James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly and Robert Crais. I also love the very light Agatha Raisen stories. Agatha is a hoot. I'll always have a soft spot for Agatha Christie, as reading her books began my life long addiction to reading mysteries. I, too, really like the Tommy and Tuppence mysteries.

Jean Keating




message 41: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6705 comments Jean, have you read The Girl Who Played with Fire? That was very good, too. It's a shame Larsson died. There is one more book in the series not published yet. I'm looking forward to it.


message 42: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 01, 2009 05:18PM) (new)

Jean wrote:I love mysteries and the title of my current favorite is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Other authors I enjoy are Elizabeth George, James Lee Burke..."


I have the first two in the Larsson series, read only the first so far and loved it. I understand the second is even better, and if the excerpt at the end of the first is any indication /shiver/, it is.

I have the Dave Robicheaux series of James Lee Burke. I've only read the first...um 7 or 8, and am enjoying them immensely. I find his writing lyrical and downright haunting at times. His opening of Heaven's Prisoners is the most accurate and beautiful description of the Gulf of Mexico I've read.




Larry Deaton | 832 comments Sherry wrote: "Jean, have you read The Girl Who Played with Fire? That was very good, too. It's a shame Larsson died. There is one more book in the series not published yet. I'm looking forward to it."

Sherry,

I couldn't wait for the third one, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST, to be published in the U.S so I ordered it about 6 weeks ago from Amazon UK. It took about 5 days to get to me and the shipping charge was really quite reasonable. The book starts slow but really gets exciting in the last third of the book. but I liked the book even better than the second one in the series.




message 44: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6705 comments That's saying a lot, Larry. I can understand your ordering it from the UK. I think I'll wait, though....something to look forward to.


Theresa | 545 comments Interesting thst most of you choose mysteries for light reading. They have never caught on for me, but I've never really given mysteries a chance, either.

Theresa


Ruth | 8690 comments There was only one period in my life where I read mysteries, mostly Agatha Christie. My then husband owned a drugstore with a paperback rack. I'd take them home, read them very carefully and put them back on the rack.


Jean | 170 comments I have read the Girl Who Played With Fire and enjoyed it immensely. Like the other fans, I'm awaiting The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest and wondering why the publication of that book is taking so long to be released in the US.

Larry, I toyed with the idea of ordering it from the UK but decided to wait for publication here.

Pontalba, You might take a look at Burke's Billy Bob Holland series set in Montana. I found them very enjoyable.

Jean K


message 48: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6705 comments I also really like Kate Atkinson's mystery series starting with Case Histories. She's an example of a "literary" writer who changed genres. She brought her literariness along with her (whatever that means).


Mary Ellen | 1168 comments Another mystery fan here. To the lists above, I'd add Martha Grimes (the earlier the book, the better, IMO), PD James and Tony Hillerman, whose detectives are members of the Navajo Tribal Police.


message 50: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 02, 2009 10:36AM) (new)

Thanks Jean, I have one of the Billy Bob series in my TBR stack, but haven't gotten around to it as of yet.

I don't recall any of Jo Nesbo's books mentioned in the thread. I've only read one so far, The Redbreast and thoroughly enjoyed it and have another in the stack. An author well worth looking into.


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