I’m a slow reader. That’s terrible for this blog, which is ALL about the books I’m reading at the moment and the sublime passages therein. When I don’t finish a book, you don’t get a post…So, I’ve decided to post some interim genius passages.
The first from Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club (about Grandma):
“I was grateful, at least, that she had her leg on that morning. She’d even covered it up with these thick support hose, Support Hose, they were called. They were orange and heavier than sausage casings. Anyway, she had worn those and had wedged the black shoe back on the plastic foot. (There’s something overdressed about a shoe on a plastic foot, like it’s besides the point.) Once we were in her room, she closed the door and posted herself, wheelchair and all, right in front of it.”
What we don’t get in the above passage is inner monologue or reflection. It’s pure action, and the action develops both the character of Mary and her grandmother.
Next up? Gogol. I know, huh? From Dead Souls. The main character has just entered a grand ballroom.
“Everything was flooded with light and black frock coats kept flashing by, singly and in clusters, like flies on a gleaming white sugar loaf on a sultry July day as an elderly housekeeper breaks it into shimmering splinters in front of an open window: the curious children gather to watch the movements of her roughened hands as they lift the mallet while the soaring squadrons of flies, riding in on the light air, land boldly as if they owned the place, and taking advantage of the old woman’s poor sight and her being blinded still further by the sun, scatter over the tasty pieces, here singly, there in heaps.”
Tell us how you feel about the ball, huh Gogol? Count the prepositions. Can we get away with a passage like this, part metaphor, part simile? I say yes, because we still get a feeling for how the main character sees the ball and we’re locked into the theme, which is this big-city stranger dropping in to dance with country folk.