intense sensations

Posts Tagged ‘how to write description

The Quickening MazeThe Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Adam Foulds is a terrific writer. I read an article by him on how to write description and it was so brilliant that I immediately bought this novel.

I’m not going to share the article with you because if you read it you will instantly be able to write brilliant descriptions in your novels and that would give me too much competition while my own career is floundering.

Oh, all right, then. You’ve twisted my arm. You’re right. Novel writing shouldn’t be competitive. We should all help each other to be brilliant.

Adam Foulds on how to write description.

This article shows that Adam Foulds is very good at appreciating other novelists. But how good is he at writing a novel himself?

I have some reservations about that. The descriptive passages in The Quickening Maze are vivid and beautiful. The story unfolds in a series of intense vignettes.

It’s a poignant story, deeply imagined, and rendered in accurate detail.

But I sensed a lot of fear in the way it was written. The author, rather like the character who had to be tied down and given an enema, was afraid to evacuate.

Ironically, this section, when Mr Francombe was given a clyster and “wept with disappointment as an astonishing quantity of shit bloomed from him across the table,” was one of the most fluent, engaging and sustained pieces of narrative in the whole novel. I forgot for a moment that I was reading the work of a poet.

The theme of clenching occurs later. The doctor himself, Matthew Allen, is guilty of it.

“When Matthew Allen had the idea he stood up out of his chair. … His body clenched with excitement, as though gripping the thought inside him so as not to lose it.”

I think the author is also clenching. Come on, Adam! Loosen up! Don’t be afraid of showing us your shit. This approach might improve the erotic passages which, though not bad, are terribly restrained and far from arousing.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits


Books by Vanessa Wu

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