Where Are You, Rhythmic Authors?

Reading Moby Dick out loud to my son — at his request with “no scary parts, dad” — I’m amazed at the difference in rhythm between contemporary fiction of this century and the last two. I know Melville’s a special case, all manic skipping lines, excitement, exasperation, then thunk, dead stop, horror. I know. But today’s work doesn’t really compare.

OK, that makes me sound about eighty years older than I actually am. But you all know what I’m talking about. I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with a fair, passing delightful, contemporary prose stylist. I’m sure there are some that are absolute pleasures to read aloud. I’m sure I’ve even read some. The only real stylist I can think of is Hemingway and he’s defiantly not delightful in the sense I’m thinking of. He’s more “Get out from between me and my drink so I can shoot that lion.”

Anyone got any ideas? If you want to recommend someone I’d appreciate it. Bonus points if the author has published short stories I can easily find in a used book store.

8 thoughts on “Where Are You, Rhythmic Authors?

  1. Hmm.

    I’ve found that reading Patrick O’Brian out loud is a satisfying experience. Lots of Gene Wolfe passages too. Some Flannery O’Connor. Not sure if that’s the same as Melville’s rhythm though.

  2. Ok. This topic really got me thinking. It is hard to find authors who have a rhthym, a groove. I came up with Gabriel Garcia Marquez (and he does have short stories). I love his work. Here is one of his quotes:
    “If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you’d pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I’d see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already.”
    hmm. good stuff.

  3. Wow, what a great point you make. You know, all this crap about writing in plain language is deeply misunderstood by the modern authors. In the quest for the mighty dollar they often forget the power of style. I read many good stories, but I am missing the style… the rhythm…
    I’ll come back, maybe your readers will come up with something.

  4. Thanks for the link, Heather.

    I’ve read one short story by Marquez, Maestro. My terrible memory is preventing me from remembering the title. It’s the one about the angel. I’m going to have to read Marquez’s big deal some time in the next one hundred years, aren’t I? And that passage, indeed, good stuff. Welcome to Upper Fort Stewart.

    You might, like me, Mihaela, appreciate the comment from Lorelle from her presentation at WordCamp that went something like, “Stop writing for your eighth-grade teacher. Stop writing in full sentences of complete thoughts”.

  5. “Hundred Years of Solitude”? His big one? To really appreciate it you should hear it read out loud in Spanish, though I admit, the English translation was great. A friend of mine who was a Spanish teacher used to read me a few chunks of it every now and then.

    If you want to learn to appreciate the rhythm a language can have, its ‘music’, rent a movie in a language you don’t know, one without subtitles. It will give you a whole new appreciation of the human voice and words.

  6. I love Lorelle. Now that’s a writer with style. Liz Strauss is another of my favourites, but this is not the point. In the blogosphere there are enough gems of style. What I want to see is novelist, other than Coelho writing with rhythm, style and grace.

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