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December 01, 2003

Matters literary

I have just stumbled across a really interesting and thought provoking piece on Byzantium's Shores, under the title of "Of matters canonical". As someone who has a very wide range of reading, both for work and for pleasure, I enjoyed the observations on what makes good literature and couldn't agree more!

A lot of the more recent writers I have tried, don't seem to be able to hold my attention or my interest. One reason for this is that they don't seem to be able to build a narrative in a compelling way. Some authors do. There are some, thast you simply cannot put down - they draw you in and hold you gripped in the narrative as if you were part of it. One of my favourites is Douglas Reeman in both his own name and in his guise of Alexander Kent. When this guy describes a ship at sea or under sail, you can taste the salt and feel the deck heave under you. His battle scenes have you ducking the shell, shot or splinters. There are one or two more that I have discovered recently that do this for you as well, but it is becoming harder to find someone who can grip your attention that well. Or maybe I'm just getting picky.

As I said, my taste is wide. I read Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Moon, Tolkien, Reeman, O'Brien, King, Koontz, McCaffrey, C S Forester and C S Lewis and a wide range of the classical authors and poets. I have even tried Archer. I also have to wade through masses of technical stuff and have my particular favourites in naval history, world history and theology. But, it all needs to be well written or it doesn't stand up to scrutiny and it certainly doesn't hold you attention. Pratchett is dangerous to read on public transport. You can find yourself being led away at your destination by the guys in whitecoats because you have been observed shaking with uncontrollable laughter by your fellow travellers - the one's Pratchett has described so well in some of his books!

Favourites? Depends entirely on my mood. My thanks to the Byzantium team, I will be visiting again regularly! One day I'll even find out how to build permanent links into this page - perhaps when the PC stops throwing wobblies at me!

Posted by The Gray Monk at December 1, 2003 07:06 PM