Monday, July 26, 2010

Reader's Diary #633- Michael Winter: Billy Bennett

I've been wanting to read Michael Winter's work for some time now. Blogging friends Remi and Corey seem to be big fans, and hey, Winter's from my birth province-- I'm always interested in reading Newfoundland and Labrador literature.

Unfortunately, my first experience with Winter was not a pleasant one. "Billy Bennett" as it appears in the July/August edition of The Walrus is apparently adapted from his latest novel The Death of Donna Whalen.

I'm not sure if Winter adapted it or if was the Walrus editors or someone else, but I'm not sure what they adapted it into; it certainly isn't a short story. It ends so abruptly I had to look to see if I missed the "page 2" icon to click on for more.

And then there was the grammar. I get that this Billy Bennett guy was a rough character. Though it's not from his point of view, the third person is clearly trying to mirror the way Billy would have told his story himself. I don't mind then when he talks about his car as a she. Lots of guys do that. I don't mind when he writes He don't go there much now. But when he writes something like
Bill Bennett has a criminal record. Everything except that assault sixteen months, that’s definitely wrong.
I'm left confused. What does that mean? Was there supposed to be an ago after months? And what's definitely wrong? The assault? The criminal record? Capturing a character's grammar is one thing, making it readable is quite another. I'm not impressed.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Teddy Rose said...

Hm.. I think I'll skip this one. Perhaps you can give him a second chance with a different story.

Here's mine: Charles by Shirley Jackson

Margot said...

I've also noticed lots of editing errors in books I've been reading. I don't like to blame the author; I'd rather blame the editors. I think publishers are relying on computer generated editing programs for too much of the work.

I have a Short Story Monday post today. You can find it here: Joyfully Retired.

TexasRed said...

Sounds like these editing errors are very distracting.

Here's mine for today: TexasRed Books

carin said...

I read 'Billy Bennett' as a slice of life story, a character sketch almost. That last image of him drinking at home at all costs, contrasts with the beginning of the piece where he's "owned two cars". There's some small promise in that opening line, then through the language and the revelations, we soon discover he's a sad character indeed. (BTW, the language works for me as I feel I'm being told Bill Bennett is a loser by someone fairly gormless themselves... which then speaks even greater volumes about the unfortunate Bill.)

Maybe it's a mood thing, but I was quite comfortable reading this 'voice'.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like one I'll definitely be passing on.

I'm a little late today, but I do have a post up.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yeah, that's practically incomprehensible. It does not scream "read me".