Sunday, November 18, 2007

Devil in the overabundant details



Dear Erik Larson:

Read Steven Hart's book. Learn how to write a work of non-fiction with concision and humor. Learn how to keep yourself under 400 pages, and how not to fool around with novelistic cliches.

This book had a lot of promise, but it simply sputters along for more than two-thirds of its tedious length.

You don't need to create a two-page aside ievery time you wish to name-drop a famous person who went to the Chicago World's Fair. MANY famous people went--BFD. Stick to your subject. Or, even better, pick a subject, instead of trying to write about fifteen or twenty of them.

Thank you.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

God that book made me so MAD. SHUT UP, IDIOTIC AUTHOR! - Emily

Nyarlathotep said...

I can't recall the last time I spent so long reading a book. And for what?

ellen cherry said...

hmmm. i remember this book differently. but i could've been high. that's "highly" possible (she snickers.) also, i trudged through "Thunderstruck" this summer, which suffered from the same frivilous asides about non-essential characters, but i loved getting more background on people, like Marconi, that i *did* want to know about.

I have oft recommended Devil in the White City to people....but i'm biased. it inspired ellen cherry to write "1893: A Girl at the World's Fair" which was #1 for a week on KCAC in Camden, Arkansas in Jan. 2007. respeck.

I'm struggling through PD James "Death In Holy Orders" now. Any rec's for a week's read in Texas?? (that i can pick up at Half Price Books?)

Nyarlathotep said...

I wanted to like this book. The World's Fair is cool, and I like reading about serial killers.

Oh, well. Now I know it inspired someone to do something cool, so I can forgive Larson his excesses.

I recommended a stinker to you once, I believe--a silly novel which borrowed heavily from A Confederacy of Dunces. Can't even recall the name now.