Saturday, 16 August 2014

Critical Mass by Sara Paretsky

Vienna, 1913
And There Was Light


Headings and titles that begin with "...[A]nd" are funny as they are failed attempts to instigate some intellectual prowess. ...or so it seems. They fool the fool though, and don't hide the overpowering desire to add an ellipsis.

Now, to the opening sentence, or should I say opening grunt. One-word openings are always at great risk of being a fail in my estimation. The reason being there isn't much one can do with one word, and there isn't that much that can be expressed. How to express conflict with one word: No! Character: Bob. Tone: Awesome! Or: Totally. Setting: Rain. These one-word fails usually go undetected; the reader washes over them as if it is a mere stain on the page. On the plus side, these grunts are so short, they don't really count as an idea that can challenge and hook. Most people don't notice them because they don't care about them, which makes one wonder why an author would begin with one. The next line:

The syllable is a soft cry of ecstasy.

What the opening of this prologue is about is a child amazed at seeing colors on the floor.

First thing (words) actually said:

"Martina, your manners."

This is whispered harshly.

Chapter 1:

The sun scorched my back through my thin shirt.

Weather and fashion. Nothing to see here. Next line:

It was September, but out on the prairie, the heat still held a midsummer ferocity.

Weather and geography, and it stays that way with some added real estate for several paragraphs before I lose interest. Someone is inspecting an old and fallen down house. I would prefer to know why before the descriptions of the house and the yard and the shed and the fence and the windows and the heat and of a dog long dead.

Verdict: Fail

Rudy Globird

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