Archive - November 2, 2010

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Review of William V. Timmons' Becker's Farm
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More On How To Write Like John O’Hara

Review of William V. Timmons' Becker's Farm

Becker’s Farm by William V. Timmons (Niger 1965–67) Create Space (Booksurge) $18.99 326 pages 2006 Reviewed by Darcey Meijer (Gabon 1982–84) BECKER’S FARM, BY WILLIAM TIMMONS, is a gratifying transformation story. A young German soldier is captured during World War II and sent to a POW camp in the United States. Through circumstance and by asking Jesus into his life, he is born again and effects major changes on the people and town around him. The glaring weakness in this otherwise good story is Timmons’ lack of proficiency in the use of quotation marks, which caused me to reread often. Timmons should also proofread for typos and verb tense errors. The protagonist, Helmut Sommerfield, is a prisoner in Camp Alexis, Nebraska. The prisoners are treated well, yet Helmut has no idea what the future will bring. When will the war end? Will he ever get back to Germany? What’s more, . . .

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More On How To Write Like John O’Hara

In Frank MacShane’s book on the Life of John O’Hara there is an interesting paragraph on style. O’Hara, says MacShane, thought of style mainly as a way of solving problems. For example, in fiction he believed that the way to create a convincing character was through dialogue. “Nothing,” he wrote, “could so quickly cast doubt on, and even destroy, the author’s character as bad dialogue. If the people did not talk right, they were not real people.” O’Hara had developed his gift for dialogue mainly in his short stories. The problem he faced in his novels was this: how to structure the book so that the narrative remained alive while the necessary information was presented?  He is not, of course, the only novelist to face this problem. O’Hara way of solving it came about (in part) from reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Reading these . . .

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