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Books in a can

I was prepared to sneer at this approving piece on condensed books, because over the years I've become a book snob who must read The Whole Thing or nothing, when a thought occurred to me: condensing a large book is surely a great way of revealing whether or not the book actually has a good plot and structure. Padding your writing with extraneous baggage in the form of treatises and side-issues and whatnot is a great way of hiding weaknesses. And such severe editing could even reveal the work's true nature. For example, there's a good mystery story struggling to escape from all the speechifying and pontificating in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugs.

Comments (3)

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

We got RAIN! Almost an hour's worth! YAY!

Ok, I feel better now, so back on topic -- I used to read a lot of condensed books because that's what my grandparents had at their lake cabin, and I didn't swim. Or ski. Or do much of anything physical that would include making a fool of myself. Reading was it. Like you, Andrea, I tend to prefer books that are interesting all the way through, the bigger the better, but since I tend to do personalized "condensation" - I skip large parts - when things go off the rails, it means it doesn't take me long to read anything. Maybe it's a good thing I don't have as much time to read as I used to?

We had rain here too, a nice one, but it didn't last long enough. We need at least a month of this.

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Surprising, now that I think about it, how much 'self-condensing' I do. Really, never thought it might be the writing, I just thought it was me being too dumb to catch what was going on. Hmmmm...thanks, Andrea.

Yeah, a month of this would be great - with a small break next Saturday so we don't have to haul the wedding indoors.

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Don't worry, he's just chopping broccoli.


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