Tuesday 9 June 2009

Talking of good writing...

Probably the best writer in the English language today is Michael Marshall Smith. And now he has a blog. This is a Good Thing.

He writes great stories, but the blog is a stark reminder of the fact that his excellent plots are just icing on the cake. It's just his prose that is inherently good, no matter what he's writing about.

For instance, thousands of people have complained about what's happened to British rubbish collection over the last few years. But none have done it like this:

When I was a kid, bin men had an aura, a mystique, something of the night about them: fierce, semi-mythical beings who came with the dawn and hefted sacks of household trash into the grinding back-ends of their trucks, before rumbling ominously away. Their speech was a sequence of impenetrable grunts and howls; their clothes looked as though they had been worn for decades, or secreted like outer skins. The only contact normal citizens had with these creatures was the ‘Christmas box’: a seasonal cash offering given to the member of the tribe that walked most convincingly on hind legs — this ritual having (to my childhood mind, at least) the flavour of a bribe to ensure that the bin men not sneak back in the night to wreak havoc upon the houses they serviced, stealing one of the occupants (or their children) and dragging them away to a dread kingdom given over to the very hungriest of ogres and trolls.


So what were we supposed to do? Call the council, we were told. And do what — ask for them to send some men instead? Or command them to use the big rusted key to open the shed at the back of the depot, where lurks a last remnant of old skool bin men, chained to a post in darkness, fed with scraps of carrion, kept for the occasions when a profligate household needed a slightly-heavier-than-usual bag carried a few feet from curb to cart?

Buying the man's books is not something you're likely to regret.

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