by Craig Monk
I stumbled upon this book while reading background material on another book I haven't yet finished, Time was Soft There. Craig Monk who writes The Classroom Conservative blog, is a professor of literature at Lethbridge University, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Writing the Lost Generation appears to be a collection of writings from those authors collectively known as the "lost generation." Since much has been written about these authors and their lives and writings, Prof. Monk is, I think, trying to let them speak for themselves.
I am having trouble with Prof Monk's writing style. I remember once having been taught that a good writer will strive to use very concise language. I have always remembered that and tried to follow that precept.
But in the context of reading Writing the Lost Generation, I'm altering my opinion. There is a point at which language becomes so full of meaning that the fullness detracts. In such writing, the reader must expend so much mental energy processing the information that the work loses it's draw.
While reading this book, I have to evaluate each word and then phrase and then clause and sentence, paragraph, etc, in order to keep the connections intact. The vocabulary and structure are not difficult in and of themselves. But Prof. Monk has mastered the idea of concise. Each word and even each component of the language is so full of meaning that there are no "breeze through" words to allow a reader processing time.
To put this a different way, I feel like a new reader. I have seen each of my kids go through the stage of having the phonetic ability to read words. But they cannot always remember the beginning of the sentence by the time they get tot the end. So they return to the beginning and have to sound out the words once again, and once again they can't get to the end of the sentence with the meaning intact.
So as an busy adult with lots of demands on my time, I may have to set this book aside simply because of time constraints.
Which brings me back to the precept of good writing being as concise as possible. If the writing style is very concise and the words are strung together in such a way as to say exactly what the author desires in as few words as possible, and yet people choose not to read the book because of the mental exercise involved, is it truly good writing?
If I decide to finish the book, I may write a more traditional review later. But I'm not really very optimistic about it.