Review: Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
I love the characters; they all seem to come alive. The part of Sally Bowles reminds me of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. What’s with gay writers and gold diggers? “Mr. Norris” feels like a real novel; “Goodbye to Berlin” is just a bunch of loosely connected short stories. There’re a lot of funny parts that had me laugh out loud on the plane, where I read the book, but ultimately the undercurrent of rising of Nazi’s and people’s almost ignorant altitude, especially just a “Allerhand” when violence happens, was very chilling. I found out the author/narrator also stayed at Nollendorfplatz, which was where I stayed when I visited Berlin. A cool coincidence.
3:20 pm • 7 May 2011 • View comments
You’re writing a novel? But you can barely speak…
"You’re writing a novel? But you can barely speak English!"
People say that to me when I tell them that I’m writing a novel. Sometimes to my face, sometimes behind my back.
I’m not a good speaker of English, or of any language for that matter. (Some’d say this is an understatement.)
But a few friends liked the story after reading the early drafts of my book, terribly written ones. Their compliments—with my insecurity, sometimes I doubt the genuineness—and the fact they are avid readers thickened my skin.
I hired someone to make a pass at the story. Still it doesn’t feel good enough.
I decided to invest the time to editing the book myself, which took at least ten times longer than to write the first draft.
My major is Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. My day job is making crack, i.e. video games. Only writing course I took beyond high school was Technical Writing 101, which had recommended “The Elements of Style,” which I had long since forgotten.
I reread “The Elements of Style.” I took each of the rules, one at a time, made a pass on the book. I kept finding new mistakes that I had missed. Still doesn’t feel good enough.
I searched for other books on writing. ”On Writing” by Stephen King repeated many things in “The Elements of Style.” “Writing Fiction for Dummies” was surprisingly intelligent. “The First Five Pages” was the most helpful. Still doesn’t feel good enough.
I attended a writing workshop. Still doesn’t feel good enough.
I was a fast reader. Instead of just absorbing the story, I slowed down to analyze the writing techniques and apply whatever I liked to my book. Still doesn’t feel good enough.
But now “Slant” is getting published. It still doesn’t feel good enough, but I had to peel it away from me or else I’ll keep making changes. So be kind in your reviews.
P.S. Why did I write “Slant” in the first place? I’ll talk about it in another post.
4:05 pm • 28 April 2011 • 1 note • View comments