Thursday, November 26, 2015

Apples and Oranges, and You in between

At the risk of comparing apples to oranges, you are going to compare story to music, in large part because you find similarities in such matters as theme, timing, pacing, and the way each searches for some kind of outcome or resolution.

Timing, including pauses and space can and do transform both story and media. Your purpose for the comparison comes from the growing awareness that stories, in particular novels, may be abridged, entire passages, even scenes removed from them, more often than not in relation to a recorded performance.

While you were growing into your determination to become a storyteller, there was in fact an entire series devoted to the publication of abridged books, not surprisingly a product of The Readers' Digest. 

In the mistaken notion that sheer quantity could assist you in reaching the state you envied of being "well read," you gave yourself over to a summer of acquiring a library of such editions from various used book stores and thrift shops.

After an entire summer of such reading, the project began to turn sour. You recall complaining to your mother how such reading was like going to a restaurant thinking to sate a realistic hunger, but leaving the restaurant after reading the menu.

True enough, in later years, as a writer and a book editor, you understood how some narratives were overwritten to the point of being distractions rather than engaging reading experiences. You, who enjoy overwriting, learned a greater sense of balance as an editor.

From time to time, the classical music stations you listened to would play a segment of a larger work, which served to motivate you to listen with all deliberate speed to the entire work. There is a difference between cutting unnecessary material--often descriptions--and abridging.

Some of this explains your early fondness for Beethoven, who seemed to you quite aware of which note should follow its predecessor, at what length, and in what interval. Without articulating the matter then, Beethoven's compositions caused you to look for the same sense of inevitability--to say nothing of feeling--in your own.

All these years later, you thank him for that each time you listen to him, and each time you find yourself caught in the skillful verbal narrative of some writer who, by the mere act of you reading a page or two, transports you to the places you visit in your dreams.

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