On My Failure To Fully Connect With The Writing Of John Cheever
Check out this opening sentence from the short story "The Enormous Radio": Jim and Irene Westcott were the kind of people who seem to strike that satisfactory average of income, endeavor, and respectability that is reached by the statistical reports in college alumni bulletins. I rather like that line, as I do most of Cheever's opening lines. (Incidentally, I seldom invent an opening line of my own that's worth a shit, usually settling for a quotation or some pop culture reference.) But, then there's this gem, after a newly-purchased (and enormous) radio is turned on: The quintet was in the distance for only an instant; it bore down upon her with a speed greater than light and filled the apartment with the noise of music amplified so mightily that it knocked a china ornament from a table to the floor. Well, I hate to get too technical*, especially since I'm generally all for hyperbole. But, it irritates me that he chose "speed greater than light" to describe the travel of sound waves. My vote is to keep the bizarro world of physics in the realm of science fiction. Here it just strikes me as sloppy.
But, that's the exception anyway. It's not the writing style. It's these empty characters. Screw it. I might be back later on this...but maybe not.
* By getting "too technical", of course, I mean that it is impossible for sound waves to travel at a "speed greater than light." The speed of sound varies based upon the medium through which it is traveling, among other conditons. However, under normal circumstances, sound will travel through air at approximately 761 miles per hour. The speed of light is measured in a vacuum (through which sound will not even travel, by the way), and is greater than 186,000 miles per second. This isn't even a competitive race, people. In this case, the tortoise will not beat the hare.