clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beautiful Prose

I read a piece the other night that was beautiful.

There was some far reaching descriptive passages that maybe were a little too far. There was some nicely crafted narration.

The beauty part was in what was absent.

In the end of this scene of physical danger there was a moment of escape. There was a quiet room where we stood and looked, and then we took a couple steps and stood and looked some more. We saw something. It was connected to the horror we just escaped but in its present position it just provided us a moment of reflection of the danger we've escaped. As we reflect, the danger is upon us again and the fast breathing maybe-this-is-the-end-rend-from-body-and-limb panic came back in waves.

I liked the effect. Aimee Bender gives a short reading of an except from Cormac McCarthy's _The Road_ in a podcast lecture. She notes how the author slows down the action in a purposeful manner to accent the displacement of a character's final action in a scene. It's set off by the other character asking "What are you doing?" Innocuous, yes ? We've all written those words then crossed them out. Too mundane.

In this passage, the shock of performing a simple act needs the punctuation of "What are you doing?" because that act is all so common for those of us NOT living in the scene of these characters. The shock effect would have been lost had the author not made the scene deliberate, purposeful and unhurried.

These were two intentional decisions by an author that accentuated and conveyed the sense of isolation from the past his characters endure. These were good decisions.

The bit I read had that same purposeful and unhurried pacing. It was lyric.

I am a sucker for emotional writing that isn't on the surface emotional.

I'm a sucker for the character finding a pen beside the pantry door. It's just a very-nearly-empty blue bic. It's the one his wife must of used to write the note saving she was running over to her Mom's and that he should eat the leftovers without waiting for her. It's the last thing in the house she touched. He holds it a moment longer then puts it in the kitchen trash. He goes out the back door to his pickup and starts it up. He drives away. The kitchen light shines halfway across the yard to the tracks of his tires. He didn't lock the door. He's nothing to protect there.

Books came from TinHouse today. They are very nice. You can order them here : books    . You should.

I'm going be absent a few days. I have some heads-down work to do.

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