Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yes, But Is It Deep?

by Guest blogger Kate Gallison

The women in my book group were yakking about a book the other night, as is our habit, and one of us remarked that the book in question was entertaining but not deep.

Naturally, since everything is about me, I wandered off into a reflection on whether or not my own work had any depth to it. Entertaining? Yes. Deep? Probably not so much. In fact, I'm not sure I would even know depth if I encountered it. I know beautiful writing when I see it, as well as vivid characters, well-crafted dialog, and clever plotting. But, depth? What is that?

In this I'm not very different from the protagonist of my early movie stories. Emily Daggett Weiss has the defects of her qualities, as they used to say in the olden days. She is a gifted visual artist, working in moving pictures. Her eye is for the surface of things. A young beauty herself, she sees and appreciates physical beauty. As a film director, like Alice Guy Blaché, like D. W. Griffith, she can put together a ravishing series of images gorgeous enough to carry an audience away.

But a movie is a two-dimensional illusion. So is Hollywood itself, in many respects. Although Emily is perfectly at home in the glossy world of Hollywood culture, where appearances seem to be everything, she's almost blind to the under-the-surface complexities of human nature.

She married Adam Weiss, a stunningly handsome man, for his beauty. In the course of time he proved to be a skunk, as anyone could have told her. At last he ran off with another woman, sending Emily a telegram to announce that they were "deeply in love."

Well, that's Hollywood for you. But it ain't deep. Do you know any deep books? What are they? Tell me, that I may read and learn.

Born in Philadelphia, Kate Gallison has been at various times a store clerk, a bill collector, a computer programmer, a technical writer, and a museum docent. As Kate Gallison, her writing credits include three private eye novels and five traditional mysteries. Under the name of Irene Fleming, she writes a series about silent movie production in the early twentieth century. The first of these, The Edge of Ruin, came out at the end of April 2010. The critics were pleased with it. The second, The Brink of Fame, will be released in August of 2011.

Kate has three grown sons and a bachelor's degree from Thomas Edison College. She lives in Lambertville, New Jersey, with her librarian husband and their cat. There she divides her time among her family, her writing, and various civic pursuits. She is a member of the Author's Guild, the MWA, Sisters in Crime, and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. She is descended from a convicted Salem witch.


Joyce said...

Welcome back, Kate! With only one cup of coffee in me so far, I can't think much of anything, let alone think of a deep book. I know one thing though: what I write would never be considered deep.

I love your book cover!

Jenna said...

Nice to see you again, Kate!

Depth, huh? No, I don't think I could ever be accused of depth, either. Although I do try. The Cutthroat Business books have deeper issues in them than the DIYs, although I like to think I handle them with a pretty light hand. I'm just not terribly cerebral, I guess. I don't think too deeply about things and take them at face value a lot. I guess my characters are the same way.

Ironically, my word verification is unter; under/below in German.

Patg said...

Deep? Though not the definition, it generally means you are going to feel depressed after reading it. It will bring up something you've never thought about and you will be expected to feel guilty about that.
I don't read deep, frankly, I'd prefer dark over deep.
Welcome, Kate.

Gina said...

I tend to think of "deep" as "meaningful" - that is, dealing with the human condition and/or societal issues beyond just entertainment. Not that there's anything wrong with entertainment - and there's no reason that a deep book can't be entertaining as well. Witness the Harry Potter series - I think that's pretty deep.

Kate Gallison said...

Maybe "deep" is just beyond the boundaries of the reader's understanding. I saw a kid in a fast food joint once wearing a cap that had the f-word written all over it in a repeating pattern. To him, the hat was deep, because being semi-literate he was scarcely able to read it. To the rest of us it was clear enough.
"Still waters run deep." Remember that one? They used to put it in the high school yearbook under the picture of the girl with the pimples and braces who later turned into a beautiful movie star, or murdered her whole family, or became a writer.

Warren Bull said...

Sorry I cannot resist. How about Jules Verne and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea not to mention his Journey to the Center of the Earth.