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Bad Writing and Aleksandar Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon skewers a made-for-film book.

Wagner wrote his thing in English, not his native language, but that cannot possibly be an excuse for the calamity of this book. His writing is riddled with clich?s that are daily struck down by conscientious high-school teachers. The characters always think “for a moment,” as if a sustained thought is impossible in the Wagnerian world. “Silence” plagues the pages, and it often “follows” speech. The thunder claps “Whrromp!” Every glance is recorded, for no discernable reason?everyone is “looking” or “focusing” all the time. The faces repeatedly “light up.” People don’t smile?they “start to smile”?and they do things “a little,” even if much happens “all of a sudden.” Here is a typical passage: “Liz started to smile, then started to say something, then thought better of it. Her smile faded for a moment, while she seemed to concentrate on a thought.” Wagner’s writing is so thoroughly devoid of any verbal imagination or intelligence that, in comparison to him, a vocabulary-impoverished sports broadcaster sounds like Shakespeare. Moreover ? ah, well, that’s enough.

(This gibes with my belief that publishers should make it a policy of publishing books only by people who write them).

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