Friday, July 13, 2007

Hot air and cold fiction

There must be some cathartic force at work, to compel those of us who blog to arrange our most fleeting, insignificant thoughts as electrons on a screen. Maybe it's a desire for connection, like casting a bottle into the sea in the hope that some sympathetic soul will retrieve it. Or not. Maybe we all just have too much time on our hands.

In any case, here's the message in today's bottle from the warehouse: Roald Dahl rules.

I've been in a nostalgic mood all week, making a mental list of all the writers whose work I most admired as a young man. I'm not thinking so much of stuff like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which was pretty good; mostly, I loved his razor-sharp and frequently ice-cold short stories, which were written in that golden era before most successful fiction was about vague epiphanies concerning the shortcomings of one's parents. Remember his superb collection "Kiss Kiss?" It's one of those books I always wish I'd bought in hardback, since it's gotten a little dog-eared over the last few decades. It's a volume I take out every time I run across it on the shelf.

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