Friday, November 07, 2008

The Namesake

I finished this book on Thursday night, and it was one of those reading experiences where I find myself a bit weepy (but not really) when the back cover is closed. "I am better because I read this," was precisely what I said to myself before I fell out comatose.

As a budding writer, I often read in an observation mode. By this I mean I find myself analyzing style and method while concurrently processing the story. Does that dilute the message? I'm not sure. Many times I'll proclaim the beauty of a book and someone will acknowledge reading it as well and mention a critical part of the plot or storyline and I'm like, "Eh? I don't remember that at all."

But I can always reference why I liked it based on how it was written. That tends to be my default: the story can be anything but the architecture of the words and the manner in which they hold up the visual component is what truly fascinates me. Not surprisingly, this is where I find great reward in my employment as a public relations and marketing professional. The final format - the executable or tactical component - doesn't engage me as much as the strategy and planning dimension does.

To me there is so much range in the visual and written spectrum, but if you don't craft the message to appeal to the audience, you're missing the opportunity to connect. I think this is the fine line we must balance in commercial writing to avoid becoming a "sellout!" (Hello, Anne Rice. Did I just type that out loud?)

And that's a real challenge when you set out to write a novel. What is the strategy? I think it's noble to write for yourself. It's certainly what compels me to continue slaving away at this story I'm attempting to extract, but at the same time I really do contemplate the end result and how it might be perceived and how it might affect someone else.

I think the reason I really respond to Jhumpa Lahiri is that she writes from a very realistic perspective. There is an intimacy created through the context and reinforces in me the insignificance of self-imposed boundaries and judgment.

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