ALL THINGS LITERARY. ALL THINGS NATURAL.

A blog for those who desire a more creative relationship with the natural world.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Red Lightning and the Human Heart

“Aim for the absolute version,” editor Tom Jenks advised us during a week-long intensive writing workshop in Denver several years ago.  “Write the story so that anyone can understand it.”  I struggled to understand this advice.  What about the complexities of plot and character?  What about hidden meaning and layered nuances?  Didn’t I want my story to appeal to the sophisticated reader, the reader who sought out intelligent stories?  Surely I didn’t want to write uncomplicated stories that anyone could understand.

And yet, that is exactly what Laura Pritchett did with her novel Red Lightning. I’m not talking simple here; I’m talking uncluttered.  Anyone who has ever known or lost a mother, loved a sister or a brother, given up a child, or regained a piece of lost, fractured heart—anyone who’s own small humanity has shriveled because of large failures—who has ever sought forgiveness—will appreciate Red Lightning for the clarity with which it portrays that universal human experience.

Perhaps a better interpretation of the “absolute version” of a story is the version based on absolute knowledge, on things understood to be true worldwide.  Red Lightning taps into the complex and tangled emotions that are found in almost all mother/daughter/sister relationships.  The beauty of Pritchett’s writing is that she uses lucid prose—clear and unfettered—to convey the shadowy depths of the human heart.

FEATURED WORD
Pellucid:  Adjective 1) allowing the maximum passage of light, as glass; translucent. 2) clear or limpid: pellucid waters. 3) clear in meaning, expression, or style: a pellucid way of writing.