how very meta

I just read a couple of books by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Threshold and the mostly-sequel Low Red Moon. They're both good: Lovecraftian themes but with believable characters who are there to do more than report and then go insane.

But, one thing that was driving me nuts while reading Threshold was that she kept doing this thing where she'd run words together like "pinkwhite" and "acidsour", and every time she did it, It would stop me, and I'd cringe. It was like it was triggering some autonomic proofreading reflex that I couldn't shake.

Anyway, just a few pages in to the second book, one of the characters is talking about the novel she's working on and says,

"Oh, you mean the way I liked to run words together to make new adjectives? Well, I don't do that anymore. It just kept pissing people off."

And there was much rejoicing!

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13 Responses:

  1. sneakums says:

    The Irish word for pink, bándearg, is the words for white (bán) and red (dearg) mashed together. Oddly, I can't think of any other Irish colour names that are formed like that.

  2. baconmonkey says:

    wow, that's kinda GermanLanguage in nature.

  3. kw34hd1 says:

    i don't know why, but reading this entry made my evening. heh.


  4. tjcrowley says:

    Caitlin will be at Spookycon this Halloween. I kind of like the way she does that with words, actually. It's part of her writing style. In other words, she's already pretty good with words so I'm willing to concede a few pretensions for the sake of amusement.

    Plus, I always see drunken men in giant squirrel costumes when I'm around her.

  5. spendocrat says:

    Arthur C. Clarke does a similar meta thing in The Ghost From The Grand Bank. A comment about something working out in a way that could only happen in a bad novel.

  6. homa says:

    Huh, reader-driven novels are next to always as boring as product-placement movies. Why is she to feel pissed off just because some readers do? :) Rats. I adore playing with words, both writing and reading.

    • thestove says:

      everything has meening, even lies have meening thats why there called lies, which are seen reflacted back from a person who had no meaning(origen of "un-connected" data) yet reflected back to the person personally as conceived as a lie,

      Previous to that, There must be a reason why that would happen, but yeah.. seems pretty clear

      man... sounds like an interesting book, shame she took to not pissing people off.

      All in good taste

      Kind Regards,

    • wfaulk says:

      One of the things that must occur when enjoying any work of fiction is suspension of disbelief. This largely requires sort of a hypnotic state. When you start requiring the reader to use a significant amount of cognition to simply understand the text, he immediately drops out of that suspension. It's like being randomly poked while you're trying to go to sleep. It's even more annoying to those of us who have some sort of preternatural copyediting facility. If you like that sort of annoyance, more power to you. But using real words doesn't mean conforming, really, any more than using sentences, paragraphs, or letters does.

    • treptoplax says:

      It depends on whether you care to be read. It's fine to be playing with words, but if you do so in an annoying matter, you're just playing with yourself.

  7. asan102 says:

    Pretty sure that's how the did things in NewSpeak.

    My rating: PlusPlusGoodWise.

  8. smokedamage says:

    but it did mkae her writing stick in your head. :)

  9. krick says:

    Ever read Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"?

    "The novel is also notable stylistically for its use of a fairly thick (but still readable) Lunar dialect consisting predominantly of English words but strongly influenced by Russian grammar."

    A little tough to read when you first pick it up but it's one of my all-time favorite books.

  10. drtboi says:

    I'm about half way through Threshold. I'm just about sure that her stickysweet thing is annoying, not good. I think Kiernan is a good enough writer that her little poetic spurts don't ruin the book, but they have been annoying, and like someone said in an earlier post, jolt me out of my state of suspended disbelief.

    Other than that, her writing is in the modern, intelligent-but-trashy horror mode I love, but with a rare, wonderful grasp of the mood set by Lovecraft, Machen, and all those other fellas who did such a bang-up job back when.