Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lines I Love (Part Two)

Some more (part one is here ) of those lines that stay with me long after I've turned the last page.
Lines holding a sentiment that lodges in my head.
Lines that make me wish I knew the author personally, so I could tell her/him just how much their creation resonates with me.
Lines that make me wish was the one who wrote them.

The effect of a death on mundanities:
There is something wonderful about a death, how everything shuts down, and all the ways you thought you were vital are not even vaguely important. Your husband can feed the kids, he can work the new oven, he can find the sausages in the fridge, after all.

The dynamic of a large family:
There is always a drunk. There is always someone who has been interfered with, as a child. There is always a colossal success, with several houses in various countries to which no one is ever invitied. There is a mysterious sister.......the great thing about being dragged up is that there is no one to blame. We are entirely free range."

The heroine's daughter at the funeral:
Her face is full of unshed tears.

Anne Enright's (Booker prize winning) The Gathering

Spine-chillingly tense:
In the voice of a mentally brittle nanny.
Alina loved the baby. She loved everything about the baby. The tiny boyness of him, the way his legs kicked whenever he looked up at her....even when he cried, when he screamed, she was very happy. But he did not cry very often. He was almost a perfect baby.

Roddy Doyle's  The Pram

The gaping wound of my wrongs, too, was now quite healed: and the flame of resentment extinguished.

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.   On the heroine's return to Gateshead, her former home, where she had been cruelly treated by her relatives.

Irresistible sensuousness:
There was a tender but energetic adhocery to our sex, the way there is when young people are not embarrassed by their bodies-what they look like and what they want. Kissing was urgent yet careful, luminous and drinklessly drunk. He hovered-quivering, tense and flight bound - I bucked, humped and arced, a dancer in a sea lion suit. Afterward, he would sometimes say, "That was one for the scrapbook!"

Lorrie Moore's    A Gate at the Stairs.

And finally a quote within a quote:


A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long. It was a special kind of ice. It kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less.

Quoted by Francine Prose in Reading like a writer from "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin.

Have you lines you love?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall in Ireland

For the last few lucky weeks, winter has stayed gloriously away and autumn continues to crane its neck further and further into November. Photos taken while out walking (Newbridge,Co Kildare, Ireland) evoke Autumn by Northamptonshire poet John Clare

A russet red the hazels gain,
As suited to their drear decline;
While maples brightest dress retain,
And in the gayest yellows shine.

                                       And I do love the varied hue,
                                     And I do love the browning plain;
                                    And I do love each scene to view,
                                    That’s mark’d with beauties of her reign.

O while my eye the landscape views,
What countless beauties are display’d;
What varied tints of nameless hues, —
Shades endless melting into shade.

Tis lovely now to turn one’s eye,
The changing face of heaven to mind;
How thin-spun clouds glide swiftly by,
While lurking storms slow move behind.

Beneath a yellow fading tree,
As red suns light thee, Autumn-morn,
In wildest rapture let me see
The sweets that most thy charms adorn.

Beside the brook, in misty blue,
Bilberries glow on tendrils weak,
Where many a bare-foot splashes through,
The pulpy, juicy prize to seek:

And the swans obliged with a "Bottoms up" to winter (needless to say, that's not a  John Clare line)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writing like a woman -V S Naipaul

 I came across this last June from Nobel Prize winning author, V.S. Naipaul:

"Women writers are different. They are quite different. I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think it is unequal to me. This is due to their sentimentality and narrow view of the world. And inevitably for a woman she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too."

How sweet.

Given that I've never read any of Mr Naipaul's work, I can't comment on whether his writing is imbued with his very obviously balanced, (not) outlook on all things gender related. A glance back at my own reading list for the past year:
Ann Enright
Lorrie Moore
Francine Prose
Kate Atkinson
Charlotte Bronte
Scarlett Thomas
Susan Hill
Ann Tyler
Helen Simpson
Jennifer Johnson

does make me wonder if maybe I need to check out my own impartiality. Guess it looks as if I just prefer to read fiction written by women -so hurrah for 'sentimentality' and a  'narrow view of the world'.

So in the spirit of trying to find out whether I could genuinely recognise male writing, I decided to take a brilliant test provided by the Guardian newspaper.

And ended up with a dismal 5 out of 10, together with a message that my 'sloppy effort' shows I obviously need to read more male writing.

For the sheer fun of it and to test whether you can recognise female writing, why not give the test a go!