People have complained before that Dos Passos’ U.S.A. trilogy is hard to read, beyond just the length. I get it. Yes, the language is very plainspoken. You’re not gonna consult the dictionary except in cases of outdated slang. But one of the principal difficulties in tracking characters is that you have to follow both words and actions. The main characters, Mac, J.W., Eleanor, Janey, et al, often are hypocrites. They say one thing and do another. To get the full http://www.honeytraveler.com/pharmacy/ meaning, you’ve gotta track both. They change their minds and usually go against what they really think or feel. If it were conveyed on TV or film, you’d instantly get a feel for the hypocrisy from the look on a face or the motion of eyes. On the page, with the main characters, the satire can be buried.
In the biographies, the satire is still subtle but less so than in the traditional narrative spaces.
“About style—I think that reading people in order to get ‘style’ from them is rather soft-headed. Your style is like the color of your hair or the cut of your pants—half accident, half act of God—to take thought to change or improve it results usually in rank affectation.”