Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good prose, for those who enjoy it

Pull up a stool and let me tell you about Inman Majors.

I guess I've mentioned him to you before. He wrote a fantastic novel called "The Millionaires." It's based on the Butcher banking scandal that rocked Knoxville in the early 1980s. Good stuff.

After I read the book, I heard him give a reading at the history center downtown. Later I chatted with him a minute. Then I tracked down his other two novels. "Swimming in Sky" spoke to my soul; "Wonderdog" is hilarious.

My friend Bridget, who is reading "The Millionaires," says Majors' books are definitely "guy novels." And they are. But his use of language is fantastic; sometimes the words flow together like the rushing current of a river's rapids, fast as you please, brilliant stream-of-consciousness.

Too bad I already have earned a bachelor's degree because I would have loved to have taken his creative writing class at James Madison. Can't do that now, but maybe I can sit in on one of his classes in the fullness of time.

I would recommend "Swimming in Sky" to any 30-something dude who feels adrift, maybe has a love-hate relationship with your hometown, both comforted and repulsed by it.

I swear, sometimes I think I'm going nuts. Other times, the reassurance of this valley protects me from whatever it is I fear out there in the great unknown.

I don't know. Maybe I just need some sleep.

But, if you love good writing, do yourself a favor and pick up an Inman Majors novel. I will be shocked if you're disappointed.

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Blogger Bridget Trogden said...

My assessment (Didn't read yours until I finished this, so I could keep my fresh perspective!):

For a book centered around the dealings of oft-shady businessmen, Inman Majors really hits the mark by charting the story in shades of gray. The novel isn't just about the plot or the characters, but also the frame in which he presents them. He juxtaposes the central stories with a fresh writing technique to give a truly fascinating and coherent modern novel.

By 100 pages into the book, it is apparent that all of the characters are inherently flawed, superbly complex, and intensely real. Although Majors uses an overriding omniscient point of view that encompasses traditional 3rd person views inside a character's head, those that an outside observer might see, and even a playwright's stage directions, his characters are never completely developed. Yet he leaves the reader satisfied in this complexity, as the characters never truly know themselves or completely understand their own actions. To present these individuals as traditionally round literary characters just wouldn't mesh with their humanity. The men and women of Majors' imagination veer off the straight and narrow and are most certainly in need of salvation. By the close of the text, Majors ties up the loose ends, but it is certain that the characters will manage to unravel them.

11:41 PM  

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