Thursday, May 8, 2014

Plain versus complex writing

I've recently finished James Sallis' Salt River.  What's enjoyable about his writing is the small asides, observations, and philosophical rumination.  I've had a few conversations recently about styles of writing in academia and the overly complex use of language, so this passage in defense of such expression caught my eye.  It certainly works for Sallis', who nicely produces literary crime fiction.

‘Two schools of thought.  One has it we’re best off using simple words, plain words.  That fancier ones only serve to obscure meaning - wrap it up in swaddling clothes.  Other side says that takes everything down to the lowest common denominator, that thought is complex and if you want to get close to what’s really meant you have to choose words carefully, words that catch gradations, nuances ... You know this shit, Turner.’

‘A version of it.’

‘Versions are what we have.  Of truth, our histories, ourselves.  Hell, you know that too.’


Anonymous said...

Oh, that's brilliant, Rob - thanks for sharing.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I really liked SALT RIVER. GLad you did too.