April 12th, 2008

breaking bad

Music in fiction

I was going to blog this weekend about the perils of including references to music in novels. However Clare Morrall has done a better job of it already in the Guardian today.

I think a key observation is here:

In his author's note to An Equal Music, Vikram Seth says 'Music to me is dearer even than speech'. This puzzled me at first. Why then, in he an author not a musician?


I feel this about some modern writers, who seem to value other media much more than the written word. Some awful books, like Da Vinci Code, read like an account by someone watching a made-for-TV movie. Others reference songs or artists as if to bring their emotional resonance into the text, as if the authors do not trust the written word alone.

I've been audio-ing 'Cloud Atlas' by David Mitchell, one strand of which is about a brilliant musician/young composer of the 1930s. I've also been reading 'House of Lost Souls' by FG Cottam, which is a modern British ghost story, about a 1980s journalist who gets sucked up by the stories or spirits of some pre-war fascists and satanists.
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