Tag Archives: style

Crazy, Stupid Love and new shoes

Crazy stupid loveWatched this film the other night and, whilst it scored an ‘ok’ on my film-o-meter 9000 scale of movie goodness, it did make one specific lasting impression on me.

At one point, Steve Carrell’s character is sitting at a bar, nursing a drink, moping about his wife having left him. He gets pitied by a smooth-talking ‘player’ in the bar, who decides to help him improve his look and educates him in the ways of picking up women. The line that stuck in my memory was an exchange over what Steve was wearing:

“Are you Steve Jobs,” asks the Player.
“Are you billionaire founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs?”
“Then why are you wearing New Balance trainers?”

Which at first struck me as elitist – I love New Balance trainers, they are my running shoe of choice. But then I looked at him, in his oversize suit and New Balance trainers, and realised… That’s what I must look like half the time.

So this weekend, we went suit and shoe shopping (as well as, more importantly and more successfully, shopping for Amanda). The Jones sale furnished me with a pair of ankle boots which I think are probably a reasonable upgrade over my previous best efforts for day-to-day footwear, but the hunt for the suit continues – thanks to the diet I am firmly between sizes at the moment.

Still, new shoes. Good start.

Epic fantasy month slows

My problem with writers that love “language” is that you end up clawing your way through pages of stodgy, turgid text in which virtually nothing happens. It’s one of the reasons that I’m generally dubious about literary fiction – a big vocabulary and ability to structure long sentences doesn’t make you a good storyteller. Case in point is the latest novel in Stephen Donaldson’s Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, which breaks several rules of good storytelling:

  1. It has so many characters and special terms (places, food, etc) it requires a glossary.
  2. It frequently uses words that really, if you wanted to understand what he was trying to say, you’d have to use a dictionary (and this isn’t me being dim…) – examples include “irenic,” “orogeny” and “frangible,” and those are just the unusual words, not the ludicrously verbose dialogue that can just about be interpreted if you stop reading for a second and think about it…
  3. Pointless use of old English in narrative flow – would it hurt to say “truth” instead of “sooth” and “virtue” instead of “virtu”?
  4. It has a higher word to event ratio than Jane Austen. The opening scene of the latest novel lasts 150 pages – in which all that happens is that they decide to go somewhere, pretty much.

So why am I still reading? I guess 15 years of being immersed in this particular story leaves me wanting to know where it ends up and my OCD is just about strong enough to see me through it. But time is against me – we go on our travels on Monday (more on that soon!) and chunky hardbacks are not coming with us!