- He does have some lovely diction and phrasing
- Strong mixture of sentence structures
- I do like his deftness in interweaving literary and biblical references
None of that, however, overcomes . . .
The Bad (and the ugly)
- long, long, and long (and tedious) prose descriptions of mental states and so forth. Dialogue makes a book sound snappy, but Williams always subordinates his dialogue to these dense passages of prose.
- In fact, these passages can get very confusing, the natural effect of skipping over small sections of text that contain plot-important details. Several times, I had to re-read sections just to find out how I got from Point A to Point B.
- A truly weird mix of authorial omniscience (i.e., Williams's point of view) and focalizer (the point of view of some character, although usually as seen through the author's position"outside" the character's consciousness, though not always). He goes from one to another without any apparent consistency
- Abrupt switches between focalizers. Sometimes the narration will be focalized through Lester, then abruptly it'll be focalized through Evelyn, then the evil magician, and so forth. Even if you're paying closer attention than I am, the effect can be jarring.
The absolute worst, however, is
- a fatal reliance on weak verbs
I had a hard time, at first, pinpointing why I found his prose so unreadable. After all, he does have some very nice rhythms to his sentences. Then I did something that I only do for my freshman students -- I went through his text and counted the "to be" verbs. Flipping open pages at random, I counted 10 on the first page, 12 on the next, and goddamn 18 on the final. Great Samuel Johnson's ghost, how does anyone incorporated 18 "to be" verbs on a page only 400 words long in the first place? Partly, that's Williams never writing "helped" when "were helping" will do, but you basically have to employ a "to be" as your main verb in just about every sentence. Even when he avoided the is's and the was's, he'd often use a weak verb such as "had" or "has."
I will never, ever read another Williams novel.