I’m reading “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, and this is but a partial review of that book, given I’m only a few chapters in. But, oh, the writing is so sweet that I needed to speak out early. Take this:
The other aspect of those weekday-evening trips he loved was the light itself, how it filled the train like something living as the cars rattled across the bridge, how it washed the weariness from his seat-mates’ faces and revealed them as they were when they first came to the country, when they were young and America seemed conquerable. He’d watch that kind light suffuse the car like syrup, watch it smudge furrows from foreheads, slick gray hairs into gold, gentle the aggressive shine from cheap fabrics into something lustrous and fine. And then the sun would drift, the car rattling uncaringly away from it, and the world would return to its normal sad shapes and colors, the people to their normal sad state, a shift as cruel and abrupt as if it had been made by a sorcerer’s wand.
When I read writing like this, there’s a huge temptation to throw down my own pen – just spend the remainder of my years reading more similarly quality stuff. But, no… that’s not the Right Thing To Do. What’s essential, for any writer, is to read what they enjoy, spend time reflecting, and work out why is this so good? We should be inspired rather than defeated by another’s work.
This particular passage (and much of the rest I’ve read to date) is so damned good because of its clear and simple evocative pull. I really *am* on that train and immersed in the world of those downtrodden characters… And what else is fiction writing other than that escape into another world, no matter how grimy and Real..?