I wrote my review of Elizabeth Hand's Radiant Days yesterday for my April column and was struck again by how intense and full the language is in the this book. I don't mean to suggest it is harsh in any way - just powerful and lush and beautiful. Liz has such a way with the written word; she truly does paint pictures with her narrative. I can't stress enough how important I think her work is for other writers to read; even if you are writing in a completely different genre there is still much to learn from her use of language. Her characters are so vividly created and their emotions so raw - they will appeal to anyone who appreciates true emotional honesty.
Yeah, I'm a fan.
Anyway, here's a bit from Radiant Days, which is about teen artist Merle living in 1978 Washington DC who collides one night across time with Arthur Rimbaud and has her life changed:
It unnerved me. Young as he was, crazy as he was, he acted like he knew something I didn't, and never would. Clea's taunt came back to me - Get a decent haircut and some clothes, go home to Norville.
Arthur would never do that, I thought.
And for the first time I realized, Neither will I.
Do you remember when you felt powerful enough to create something that would change the world? I forgot that for awhile; honestly I don't know that I feel that way now really. I think I should - I think it would be helpful if I did - but it seems like we think those big dreams are only for when we're young. When you hit 40, you just want the chance to change a tiny piece of the world, a couple of dozen hearts and minds. That's what I like the most about Liz Hand's books - she makes me a believer in powerful moments again. "I say you have to become a visionary, make yourself a visionary." Arthur Rimbaud wrote that in 1871 and now, in 2012, Liz Hand gives it to readers all over again. There's no excuse for any of us she asserts, not to try at least, there has never been an excuse not to try.
Arthur Rimbaud would laugh at me and my defeatism right now; Liz Hand, I think, would merely say get back to work. So here I go....
[Post title from "Radiant Days" of course!]