Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Being jolted out the story

I started a new book a couple of days ago. I'm having a reoccurring problem with the prose. The story seems to be a little over-written at times, with too much elaboration and what seems to me to be odd sentence construction. The effect is to jolt me out of the story as I start to focus on the prose itself and not the narrative. I know you won't have the full context, but see what you make of these passages:

The sharp sodium wind prickled Pierce's scarred face. Scars he picked up years ago, but somehow they'd never weathered, just remaining smooth, shiny and pink. A long stripe running from an ear lobe to his top lip sectioned off one quarter of his face. A spider's web on his cheekbone where the business end of a broken stout bottle had been plunged. His left eye resembled a rare bird's egg sitting in a nest - a nest of scars. A shard of glass had penetrated it, leaving it completely redundant: a speckled, marbled jelly with streaky blue and red blood vessels running through it.

The 'a nest of scars' is, for me, redundant and pops me out of the story by disrupting the flow. Why not simply: 'sitting in a nest of scars'?

Ribbons wasn't his real name. He'd been given that nickname due to the scars he'd picked up over the years - literally cut to ribbons.

The 'literally cut to ribbons' seems redundant. Surely the reader has the wit to understand the nickname given the reference to scars and wider contextualisation.

'I double parked,' said the young detective, knowing that it would displease Tobin. It did.

Again, no need for the 'It did'.

There seems to be multiple instances of these kinds of re-statements. Perhaps it's just me, but they're disrupting the flow of my reading. Does anybody else experience being jolted out of the story in this way?


crimeficreader said...

Ooh, this is bugging me now. I am sure I have read this...

Rob Kitchin said...

You have read this one. I got the recommendation from you. I am enjoying the book and I'll make the end. I just keep getting jolted out the story every now and then, which I'm finding annoying. Otherwise, so far, a perfectly good story.

crimeficreader said...

Yes, I have worked it out now. Thought it may have been a more recent read initially, but 'the rare bird's egg sitting in a nest...' stayed with me, along with the ribbons. I actually thought the description was what evoked the type of violence of the time.
I hope you continue to enjoy it, Rob. ;)