October 11, 2004

Surprisingly, A Story That Didn't Suck

Kurt Vonnegut once said that "Any critic who expresses rage and loathing over a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae." Though I admittedly write many mean spirited entries on books and stories I read, everything I say is written for jest, and the truth of the matter is this: no matter what the story, there is someone in the world who it will appeal to. That work will mean something to someone even as it means nothing to you, and therefore to say that any work of literature is worthless is a travesty of the highest degree. Due to the fact that I'm in a good mood, I decided to express these thoughts, along with exactly what I thought of Melville's Bartelby the Scrivner, in a rather different light than I normally write in.

This work interested me, not because the story was so interesting in itself, but because of the style in which it was written. One of the main things I criticize about many stories is all the useless filler that is put in, seemingly to take up space, and at first glance, there seems to be a decent amount of that in Melville's work. When carefully re-read though, it becomes slightly more obvious that every one of his outwardly pointless details actually contributes in some way, either to forwarding the plot, or to making his characters very three dimensional and real. Just the fact that Bartelby says "I would prefer not to," Instead of "screw off" says wonders about what kind of person he is. Being able to make a truly rounded character is one of the characteristics that makes a truly great writer, and Melville pulls it off stunningly. This story actually almost made me want to read another one of Melville's works. Almost.

Posted by PaulCrossman at October 11, 2004 12:50 PM
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