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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

'Description, don't knock it,' says Patricia Hampl

We're told not to put much description in our books because people already carry huge image files in their heads. No need to describe the White House or Statue of Liberty.  Hampl argues that in desciption the author's sensibility meets objects, and that is mainly what style is.  From the description of her mother's Czech teacup from World War II, came not only her mother's heartbreak but all of Europe's.  Description leads to a story, and is as important as character and plot and all the rest.  She quotes Nabakov, "Caress the detail, the divine detail." in her essay "The Dark Art of Description," reprinted in 2009 The Best American Essays.

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