Be concise. Then stretch like elastic. The wisdom of Paul West

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Paul West—a novel innovator, a proponent of risk, a teacher who, by his own accounting in Master Class, challenged, abraded and applauded—recently passed away. He had been living in the aftermath of a stroke that had rearranged his language. He'd been living loved by his wife, the writer Diane Ackerman.

In honor of his passing I went back last night and re-read passages of Master Class—a plea for originality, a template for the new. Perhaps I like this book so much because I side with West. I believe in the unusual mix.

But let's give the words today to Mr. West himself. A passage from his account of a final class.
From time to time I encourage them to see their work in an almost Dionysian way, at its most creative, trying to experiment in every sentence, not through wild excess but with timing, almost covert touches that will transform a phrase. Be concise to begin with, I tell them, and then stretch it out like elastic, filling in all the spaces.


Victoria Marie Lees said...

Another book I need to add to my list, Beth: Master Class by Paul West. Thanks for the beautiful fall photo. I do lots of thinking while crunching through leaves. Hope all is well.

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