Monday, October 25, 2010

Modern . . . Not So Very

So, knowing it was going to be a fairly crazy weekend, given my daughter's 5th birthday party, when I chose a book to read on Friday, I went for something I knew would be light, quick, and interesting--I picked up a Nora Roberts my mom had lent me. I don't read mainstream fiction all that much anymore, so it feels like a break from the norm when I do.

This one has made me grin in several places. It's contemporary, as almost all of Nora Roberts' books are. Only, this contemporary was written some 17 years ago. It's kind of funny. And hammers home the little ways a manuscript can get dated when we try our darnedest not to let it happen. The biggest of the key items . . .

1.) Fashion - obviously when we're describing our characters and how gorgeous they look in their this or that, we touch on what the this and that is. Never imagining that nearly two decades later someone will be reading our book going "A silver jumpsuit?? Really?" and "A short-sleeved sweatshirt? Oh, wow, dude. That's, um . . . something."

2.) Technology - do you remember the world before cell phones? When it was cutting-edge to have a car phone? When there were phone booths on every corner? That's the world this book is written in. Obviously an author has no choice but to work with the technology available, but it's still funny to think how now we have to go out of our way to explain a lack of cell phone if we want out characters cut off and vulnerable.

Anyone else have any fun examples of ways contemporaries can suddenly strike you as being not-so-very-contemporary? Not that these detract from the story, mind you. But they've given me a few grins.


  1. :) I think it's fun when an author includes these details. We really see a specific person in a specific time. Even if their taste does prove questionable later on down the road. I may not have had a silver jumpsuit, but I did have a gray pin striped jumpsuit with padded shoulder, so this would be nostalgic fiction for me I guess.

  2. Yep. Also love how it doesn't strike me as at all aged UNTIL I get to those few moments. That's some great storytelling--the kind that shocks me when I realize it's set in 1993.

    And silver jumpsuits are probably back in style now anyway, LOL. I was all of 11 in '93, so my style was limited to stirrup pants and long sweaters. Sigh.