When Less is so much More…

I think my greatest literary (re)discovery of 2010 has to be Muriel Spark. I’d tried a couple of her books years ago but had never taken to the style. Revisiting her writing this past year, with different, more appreciative eyes, has seen me absolutely devouring her work. 

Santa brought me her autobiography, which I’m very much looking forward to reading. In the meantime I’m finishing The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – and am loving itThankfully I’ve never seen the film which I doubt could ever capture the nuances of her characters.

She has to be the Mistress of Spare Prose, and it is this – plus the dry humour – which does it for me. Her ability to convey the darkest aspects of the human psyche without resorting to ramming a character’s rawness down our throats, without ever really leaving that light and frivolous tone, is sublime. It’s a level of narrative control I’d love to achieve as a writer – almost unbearably tight… but I’m now firmly of a mind that in writing, as perhaps in life, it’s the holding back that evokes emotion, not the bleeding onto a page.

I’ve read lots of books this year, and some real beauties (one that springs to mind is the glorious Divine Farce by Michael S Graziano) but it’s Spark’s work that’s had the biggest impact on me as a writer

So, seven down and another 15 to go… should see me nicely into 2011.