Monday, June 23, 2008

The Soul Of A Writer

I'm currently reading The Soul Of A Chef by Mark Ruhlman and I'm enjoying it a lot. The first section is about chefs taking the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Certified Master Chef (CMC) test. It is fun and suspenseful as Mark describes the chefs who are testing, the menus they prepare and the results of the tests. The second section, which I haven't finished yet, is about Michael Symon, the most recent addition to Iron Chef America. The third section is about Mark's own search for culinary perfection - does it even exist? I recommend the book to any foodies who like Food Network and who appreciate crafty food preparation.

Enough about the book content; the real purpose of this post to make a point about writing.

In the middle of the section on Michael Symon, I encountered this sentence: "Courtney, like most Lola employees, lived near the restaurant with a gigantic chocolate Lab named Guinness." After reading a sentence like that, my brain screeches to a halt and I'm lifted out of the story to ponder; does every Lola employee have a chocolate dog named Guinness? You may think that is silly but it is true. My rational braing quickly determines that, of course, the author means most employees live near the restaurant and that Courtney also has a chocolate Lab. But the damage has been done. I've become distracted and, for the next few pages, I'm imagining of all the Lola employees owning similar dogs, all who answer to the name Guinness. A company picnic would be funny, with dogs completely confused every time one is summoned.

I'm over it now but it makes me think more authors should buy the book Write Tight by my brother's friend, Bill.


Bill Brohaugh said...

Your brother's friend Bill says you're dead on target with this post. When reading the quoted text, I slogged through the same confusion you encountered because of the vaguely directed modifying phrase.

Another distraction in the sentence results from context of the story. The overall subject is chef training, the study of food, and the Certified Master Chef test. With those concepts placed in the reader's mind (my mind, in this case), my first thought was that a "chocolate Lab" was a confectionary test kitchen.

By the way, I like the header atop your blog. In those pictures . . . is that your brother in the yellow wig, or in the Mr. Potato head glasses?

susan said...

LOL! Ask him! :-)

JohnnyB said...

I'll be in the chocolate lab if you need me.