Keith MacKenzie 26 letters. A million and more words. No limit to stories.

Consistency is the key

I’m about 50 pages into Patrick DeWitt’s novel The Sisters Brothers, an enjoyable read and very refreshing fiction for a Canadian like me who’s tired of the three-generational dysfunctional family epics spun by some of Canada’s most respected scribes.

Not that I’m a hater of that sort of literature – rather, Canadian post-modern fiction almost seems pretentious and long-winded, a tad memiorish, and a lot of words about boring everyday stuff like the bike I used to ride to school and how I used to call it KITT after the car in Knight Rider. Do you really care about that or do you care about a good story with interesting characters in a vibrant environment?

I’m with the latter crowd. Nothing gets my jubes going like a thick, story-driven, character-rich diatribe that reads as if your grandpa had been through it all and was telling you all about it while snatching another glub from his half-full bottle of Talisker and coughing up a lung before going into the tale of how he robbed his best friend of his best girl the night before graduation and broke his heart in the process. Tales of guns, runaway trains, battles between characters so slimy that you can’t help but like them – sort of the way Hans Landa stole the scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

Now on to DeWitt. I’m committing sacrilege here by referring to a book I only am 50 pages into, but what appeals to me are two things: first, the rounded characters, and second, the consistency of the prose. It is all so believable and simple, I feel totally immersed in his writing.

In a roundabout way, I’m saying that this is important – consistency of prose. I feel I am reading a book by someone who took the time to ensure that it reads well, smoothly and easily. That the prose is consistent with the world it describes. That the characters are consistent throughout, making them totally believable and human. That the plot flows smoothly like a slow river, so that I can relax on a raft on the river like Tom and Huck and appreciate the journey, and know that I won’t get jarred by unexpected rapids.

And even then, if the rapids do appear, they come at the right times so that it works with the rest of the story.

Consistency and flow. Any writer can write a sentence that drips off the tongue like honey, but its a good writer who can ensure the consistency of the honey throughout the whole story.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

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Four books in the fire. Dozens of short stories fluttering about. Mission: To get the word out.

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