Sunday, September 9, 2012

Choking Your Readers To Death

Ulysses is the description of a single day, the sixteenth of June 1904, a Thursday, a day in the mingled and separate lives of a number of characters walking, riding, sitting, talking, dreaming, drinking, and going through a number of minor and major physiological actions during this one day in Dublin and the early morning hours of the next day.
--from Lectures on Literature by Vladimir Nabokov

It's somehow fitting that with this endless eyesore of a sentence, Nabokov exactly imitates the unreadable style of James Joyce.

Perhaps he's being deliberately ironic and making some kind of lit-crit joke. Maybe this is the kind of prose that makes literature grad students nod knowingly and LOL to each other.

Then again, maybe it's just terrible writing. Arrogant, terrible writing.

Have mercy on your readers. Don't choke them to death. Break your sentences down into chewable pieces and help your readers understand what the hell you're saying.