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The thing about cliche

LPC en Filmoteca | Julio 12, 2011

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I have no doubt that most of them, also, would like to be much better writers than they are, would like to have force and integrity and imagination enough of these to earn a decent living at some art of literature that has the dignity of a free profession. It will not happen to them, and there is not much reason why it should. If it ever could have happened, it will not happen now. For even the best of them (with a few rare exceptions) devote their entire time to work which has no more possibility of distinction than a Pekinese has of becoming a Great Dane: to asinine musicals about Technicolor legs and the yowling of night-club singers; to "psychological" dramas with wooden plots, stock characters, and that persistent note of fuzzy earnestness which suggests the conversation of schoolgirls in puberty; to sprightly and sophisticated comedies (we hope) in which the gags are as stale as the attitudes, in which there is always a drink in every hand, a butler in every doorway, and a telephone on the edge of every bathtub; to historical epics in which the male actors look like female impersonators, and the lovely feminine star looks just a little too starry-eyed for a babe who has spent half her life swapping husbands; and last but not least, to those pictures of deep social import in which everybody is thoughtful and grown-up and sincere and the more difficult problems of life are wordily resolved into a unanimous vote of confidence in the inviolability of the Constitution, the sanctity of the home, and the paramount importance of the streamlined kitchen.

Writers in Hollywood, Raymond Chandler 1945

When you open The Lost World you enter a strange terrain of one-page chapters, one-sentence paragraphs and one-word sentences. You will gaze through the thick canopy of authorial padding. It's a jungle out there, and jungles are 'hot' sometimes 'very hot'. 'Malcolm wiped his forehead. "It's hot up here."' Levine agrees: '"Yes, it's hot."' Thirty pages later it's still hot. '"Jeez, it's hot up here, " Eddie said.' And Levine agrees again: '"Yes," Levine said, shrugging.' Out there, beyond the foliage, you see herds of cliches, roaming free. You will listen in 'stunned silence' to an 'unearthly cry' or a 'deafening roar'. Raptors are 'rapacious'. Reptiles are 'reptilian'. Pain is 'searing'.

The Lost World by Michael Crichton, The War against cliche, Martin Amis



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