Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dept. of Everybody's a critic: Soldiers are impatient with narrative

I had never been to Cape Fear. It was one of the many places in America I had never visited. I had seen the movie, through. Couldn't remember where, exactly. In a tent, somewhere hot, maybe. Black and white, with Gregory Peck having some kind of a major problem with Robert Mitchum. It was good enough entertainment, as I recalled, but fundamentally annoying. There was a lot of jeering from the audience. Robert Mitchum should have gone down early in the first reel. Watching civilians dither around just to spin out a story for ninety minutes had no real appeal for soldiers.
-- from the Lee Child novel The Enemy, in which a military detective is the hero.
Yes, soldiers, those arbiters of what's essential and important in culture. They have no patience for the slow "spinning" of narrative. You got a bad guy, take him out early. Why dither around, indeed. Of course, The Enemy is some 465 pages in trade paperback. Not sure why a military detective would narrate a story at that length when the bad guy is probably evident in the first hundred pages. Waste of space, really.

No comments: