Not long ago, a former colleague of mine turned up her nose when I mentioned that I was enthralled in the middle of George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” saga. That really irritated me. Martin pulls off some very intricate, psychologically deep scenes, but all this snotty person could think of were the dragons and longswords. Jil Hoffmann’s post goes to the heart of the issue — do we really know what we’re talking about when we refer to “serious” literature? — in her post about Patricia Highsmith. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The book is entertaining, for the most part, and she tells anecdotes about writing and editing several of her books, everything from the germ of an idea to development through multiple revisions. At the end, she includes a “case history” for her novel, The Glass Cell.
My aim in reading was to understand the writer’s task from the non-literary fiction angle. So when I reached the last chapter, it felt like she was speaking directly to me in a section titled “The Suspense Label:”
…Strangers on a Train, which was just “a novel” when I wrote it, …was labeled a “suspense novel.” From that time on, whatever I wrote was put in the “suspense” category, which means to have one’s novel fated, at least…
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