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Booking Through Thursday 3/18

March 18, 2010


Which do you prefer? Lurid, fruity prose, awash in imagery and sensuous textures and colors? Or straight-forward, clean, simple prose?

(You thought I was going to ask something else, didn’t you? Admit it!)

At first, I had an easy answer. Sensual, of course. Bring me into the smell, taste, touch, experience, and describe it vividly so I feel like I’m there. I especially love good food writing and memoir for that reason. Make me want to eat the pages, and you’ve done a good job. I love a good atmospheric wallow in a book with a strong sense of food or place.

Not sure what I think of the word lurid, because it makes me think of another sort of sensual prose.  The kind where adjectives are so thick and sprawling that they seem to clutter the story. Or worse yet, the Bulwer-Lytton kind of overblown descriptions that are so bad they’re funny. I find really sensual romance kind of embarrassing. I prefer metaphoric language for sexual writing, in part because I’m a prude, and also because the words get kind of ridiculous.

I love it when sensual language shows up in descriptions of ordinary things and activities- things that happen with clothes on, or descriptions of chaste scenes. Neruda’s a good one for that… his phrases, even in translation, are so scorching hot I can’t read him on the subway.

For things like mystery novels, and sometimes when I’m just not in the mood, I like prose to stay straightforward, and on the leaner side. I don’t tend that way by default. I can’t read Hemingway without getting mad at the bareness of his language. My natural tendency is towards wordier reading, speaking writing. Tangents and entwined stories and a love of image and metaphor.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2010 12:04 pm

    My tendency is also towards more descriptive writing. Here is my response:

  2. March 18, 2010 6:03 pm

    I love language that evokes the senses too. But for me it depends on the story. Here’s mine:

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