Which do you prefer? Lurid, fruity prose, awash in imagery and sensuous textures and colors? Or straight-forward, clean, simple prose?
I prefer straight-forward prose. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy an author who makes great use of imagery, but “lurid, fruity prose” reminds me of the romance novels I used to sort when I volunteered at a local thrift store. (I was especially enthralled by the several novels that appeared to be centered around handsome Vikings time-traveling to the future and ending up with smart, modern women.)
But I think straight-forward prose can be much more effective than something awash in imagery. I prefer specific, thoughtful details to pages and pages of detail. For instance, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, there’s just one perfect detail that drives home the horror and the love at the center of the novel.
This is something, I think, I’ve developed over the years–recently, I was reading something online, but as soon as it started describing the main character’s “onyx eyes”, I was out. Not only because it was downright silly, but because it also reminded me of my also downright silly middle school poetry. There’s an art to revealing just the right thing at the right time to the reader, and I wildly prefer to see that discretion on display instead of a potpourri of detail.
9 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Sensual”
We defined “fruity prose” differently. My thoughts did not turn to romance novels, maybe because I dislike the genre, with the exception of period/historical romances, which leave one to thought, not detail of the romance. I am quite fond of words and feel some books require lengthy prose and it can be done quite well. My BTT: http://www.rundpinne.com/2010/03/booking-through-thursday-prose.html
Thanks for stopping by!
One author I can think of who does “fruity prose” well is Angela Carter. With anyone else, I would hate her pick-a-word-from-the-thesaurus vocabulary and over-the-top descriptions.
She makes it work, though; I don’t know how. Wise Children and The Bloody Chamber are two of my favorites.
On the other hand, I love the clean, lyrical prose of Alice Hoffman, Ann Patchett, and Frank McCourt, while I’m not a fan of Ernest Hemingway’s “AP” style.
I guess it depends on the skill and personality of the author and books, as well as personal taste, because I like the styles of a variety of authors.
I’ve only read a little Hemingway and long ago, but I remember feeling it was very brief.
for me it depends whether it’s a classic book or modern one.
See my answer here:
Wow – great post. The reference to “Beloved” is perfect!
I think I would have been out with “onyx eyes” too! Who has that?
Aw, thanks! Yeah. It also takes me back to FanFiction.net, where, I assume, the wee lasses still write their fanfiction with a thesaurus and stars in their eyes.
I’d probably be out too with onyx eyes. My post is here.