(urth) Padding?

Craig Brewer cnbrewer at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 30 10:02:30 PST 2010

It seems like there are different ways to take it.

When I first read it, I thought, "And here's Wolfe deciding to be 'literary.' 
Let's stop the 'quest-adventure' and do some thematic ruminating!"

After I got more interested in the world of Urth, it seemed like perfectly 
appropriate "world building" stuff. It was almost generically appropriate.

Then, even later, when I was interested in the cultural/religious aspects of 
Urth, it seemed like a series of interesting philosophical digressions.

Looking back now, it was probably Wolfe doing some of all of that. It seems 
perfectly appropriate that the original STORY could have done without it. And my 
bet is that when Wolfe was originally writing the thing, he was thinking 
primarily as a professional genre writer would: I have my story, and now I have 
to add to it because my editor/publisher wants more. I don't want to screw up 
the plot I've laid out, so how can I add to this appropriately in a way that 
won't require all kinds of plot-level restructuring?

So it probably was padding, in terms of word count. But a good writer will still 
make padding add to the overall work, which I think this does. It certainly 
interrupts the "forward movement" of the story (and maybe we can fault it for 
that...Wolfe even seems to, and I can understand how the "storyteller" in him 
might be a bit irritated with those passages), but it still contributes to Urth. 
I wouldn't want to do without it, myself, just as I wouldn't want to do without 
any of the other Brown Book stories (and still want more!).

----- Original Message ----
From: Son of Witz <Sonofwitz at butcherbaker.org>
To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
Sent: Tue, November 30, 2010 11:31:54 AM
Subject: Re: (urth) Padding?

Wait, Isn't the storytelling contest in the fourth book, in the Lazaret?
I feel that stuff is obliquely relevant, but mostly padding. I can barely stand 
that contest in the Lazaret.


On Nov 30, 2010, at 3:16 AM, Mo Holkar <lists at ukg.co.uk> wrote:

> Hi all,
> One of Wolfe's comments in the Cooney interview, linked here recently, caught 
>my eye. Re BotNS:
> "If you look in the third book, you will find a storytelling contest that’s 
>strictly padding. That contest got me a really good review in Playboy Magazine – 
>and I’ve always been grateful to it for that reason."
> I have always seen the storytelling contest as narratively and thematically 
>important. We step back from the main action, and get a succession of insights 
>into the metaphysics of the characters' world. We then read on with somewhat 
>renewed eyes.
> I guess we can continue to believe that Wolfe is being a little disingenuous 
>when he says it's "strictly" padding. But it is slightly sobering to reflect 
>that if BotNS had remained a trilogy, it wouldn't have been included.
> Although perhaps you may feel that this is post hoc reasoning, and really it is 
>indeed padding that we could have done happily without?
> best wishes,
> Mo
> # ~ # ~ #
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