Sunday, January 17, 2010
Yes, you can have too much of something you like
Since I blogged about reading The World According to Garp I have read nothing but other John Irving books back to back. The thing is that I think this might not have been a good plan. Just as I once ate five mangoes - one after the other - and can barely bring myself to eat this fruit any more, I am looking at the three Irving books I've yet to read with a distinct lack of interest.
Isn't it a shame that over-exposure to something so good can put you off? I have learnt on my OU creative writing course that the art of writing is a craft like any other - say playing the piano or learning how to draw. There are distinct techniques that can be honed and perfected and many successful writers have benefited from studying these various tricks to help narrative flow and characterisation be fully-fleshed out. Having now read nine Irving books in a row I can see these tricks quite clearly - not that it makes them any less good, just that I have overdone it and wish I had read other authors in between the Irving masterpieces.
As a complete contrast I am now reading a very light book by Ben Elton (Blast from the Past) and it is refreshingly simple and uncomplicated. I don't need to re-read a paragraph to savour the language, it doesn't fill my mind wondering how Elton thought of the characters - in short it is a basic readable airport novel.
Just as I hope one day to return to mangoes with my same enthusaiasm. I reckon that one day I will be ready for my remaining three Irving books. For anyone wanting to begin with an Irving book that I (and fellow bloggers Dumdad and Carol) think is the best, then try A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is quite a few months since I read it and I still think about Owen. How wonderful it must be to write such a perfect book and it's something not many people achieve.
Is there anything that you once loved and, due to over-exposure, can now no longer enjoy?