November 11, 2013
Should Business Writing Be Good?
Posted by David Zaring

Dwight Garner at the Times thinks so, per his review of The Frackers, Greg Zuckerman's paean to the new energy boom:

If you care at all about the considered use of the English language, you will probably wish to remain at least 10 paces from this book. Its sentences arrive as if prefrozen at a warehouse, and picked up by the author after they’ve fallen from the back of a Sysco truck.

Executives here are “honchos” or “bigwigs.” Wealthy people are “moneybags.” Restaurants are “eateries.” Interiors are “swanky.” A death is a “passing.” The author, a journalistic Will Rogers, has never met a cliché he did not like.

...

How good does nonfiction writing have to be? It’s a complicated question; there are so many variables. One answer, though, is: better than this. Isn’t there cliché-isolating software publishers can put to use? If not, why not? We need an app for this.

Second-rate writing and second-rate thinking tend to arrive in tandem, like the Captain & Tennille. “The Frackers” has little of nuance to say about geology or engineering. You will not come away with a more sophisticated notion of how hydraulic fracturing or horizontal drilling works.

I've been reading some energy literature of late, and, other than The Son, it's pretty grim going.  Oil still awaits its Melville (though it may already have its Burrough, I haven't read that one yet), it appears, though do inform me if you disagree in the comments.  

 

 

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