Dreiser’s style is not spare.

 

 

spare: economical in style; using simple language and a minimum of words; restrained

 

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I was amused by William Kent Krueger’s description in his By the Book interview (Aug. 22) of a Midwest voice in literature that is “spare but eloquent,” given the hardly spare style that he uses in his own fiction of the Midwest.

For example, in his novel “Ordinary Grace,” Krueger’s narrator describes his sister’s organ playing at a funeral as “fingers shaping the music every bit as magnificently as God shaped the wings of butterflies.”

When the narrator’s mother sings at the same service, “her voice reached out to wipe away my tears and enfold my heart. … And when she finished the sound of the breeze through the doorway was like the sigh of angels well pleased.” This descriptive flora is anything but “spare.”
One of our great voices of the Midwest was the early-20th-century novelist Theodore Dreiser. His writing was so spare that some critics have complained that it was excessively so.

— Robert Farrell, letter to editor, The New York Times Book Review, September 5, 2021

 

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Dreiser’s style is not excessively spare. Hemingway’s is. Dreiser, on the contrary, is often verbose.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   September 2021

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