But it wasn’t what Saramago was doing that I already could do (albeit on a smaller, less Nobel Prize worthy way) that made reading Blindness so educational. It was a certain, very, to my mind, unSaramago-like quality to this novel that makes it both Saramago’s best novel and the one that opened an until-then locked door for me. The thing that makes Blindness so great isn’t just the writing (by which I mean the language, the way the sentences (even in translation) unfold in perfect rhythm, the sharpness of the insights, the brilliance of all sorts of small technical choices (like not giving any of the characters proper names), which is so mindbogglingly good, but the gripping, unrelenting nature of the novel’s plot.Blindness, by José Saramago • VINTAGE • AVAILABLE AT BLOOM
Two bits of advice (one fairly obvious and arguably useless, the other better all around) for writers, by way of conclusion. First, it’s not a bad idea to read writers that write like you, only better. Second, when you find yourself trying to write in a way you’ve never written before, avoid the urge to simultaneously stop doing what you already do well. This urge is understandable, informed as it is by both the desire to not be accused of repeating oneself and the dream of being the object of that most coveted double negative, “There’s seemingly nothing Writer X can’t do!” Starting from scratch, in regards to style, technique, etc., is asking for trouble, if you ask me. Instead, go from strength to strength. You can thank me (and Jose Saramago) later.
[TODD HASAK-LOWY IS A WRITER AND LITERARY CRITIC WHO WAS BROUGHT BY MARK SARVAS ON THE ELEGANT VARIATION - A PIECE IN THREE PARTS]
• READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.