Yesterday, I began reading a book, The Master, by one of my favorite authors, Colm Toibin. So far, I’ve only read an anthology of short stories by this writer, yet his style is so clean, so sparse, and at the same time so rich, that he jumped to the top of my favorites list. I often reread his paragraphs or pages for the simple pleasure of experiencing the rhythm and depth of his prose. I will, in time, read all of Toibin’s published works.
For me, this is one of the delights of reading, finding a writer who not only knows how to structure a absorbing plot and create noteworthy characters, but one who has leaned his/her craft to the point where there are no wasted words, no melodrama, no showing off with sugary metaphors, and nothing added that detracts from the images and feelings he creates with words. His prose is understated, yet so rich with depth.
Reading a writer of Colm Toibin’s caliber brings such joy and heartache to me. It makes me realize what is possible, what I am striving for day after day when I face that blank page, and yet it reminds me how minimal are my talents and how far I have to go with my own writing.
That recognition of joy and heartache is a Zen thing—understanding that everything has two sides, that each bit of delight holds sorrow waiting in the wings for its turn. For now I read and appreciate and learn, day by day, with the hope that I will hone my skills as comprehensively as Colm Toibin.