Category Archives: Writing

The Measure Of My Days, Florida Scott-Maxwell

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So, reading this for my book group. It’s not my usual reading material: non-fiction, no plot or chronology, written by an eighty-two year-old playwright and Jungian psychologist.

It’s not an autobiography, not even a memoir. It is, according to itself, a notebook containing her observations on age and on society. Rambling. Unstructured. Containing a lifetime of knowledge, experience and opinion ruminated upon in the isolation of age.

It’s essentially a blog. And so far we have considered the nature of evil, humanity and age.

As an example, I’ll leave this snippet which I found quite moving.

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You had one job…

I have always hankered for a job where I can sell my words. I think I’m pretty good with words when I want to be. I surround myself with exquisite, delicate, evocative and earthy words on a daily basis. 

So, when I buy a birthday card, a card for which someone has been paid for the quality of their words, it pains me to see this. 

 Edit   I can accept the sequence of fragments as a stylistic pastiche. But the circled comma splices annoys me, especially the second one. They detract from the changes in tone; they lose rhythm and pace; they are just wrong. 

But it is got worse! Turning to the inside of the card, I saw this!

  

A sentence begun with a lower case letter? A grocer’s apostrophe! From a professional writer! Which was paid for!

I hang my head in shame. 

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge 

She dreamed that she was in a dressmaker’s shop to be measured, but that when she took off her own frock to try on the new one, she found she had another dress on underneath. She took off that one as well, only to find yet another dress beneath that one. Dress after dress she removed, becoming thinner and thinner all the while, until it came to her that in the end there would be nothing left of her, except a pile of discarded clothes and a disembodied wail. 

  

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge

Her head hurt. There was a sound grating against her mind, a music-less rasp like the rustling of paper. Somebody had taken a laugh, crumpled it into a great, crackly ball and stuffed her skull with it. Seven days, it laughed. Seven days. 

  I’ve never read Hardinge – although a quick Wikipedia search shows she was born in the same year and county as me! But there is something gorgeous in her use of figurative language: the crumpled crackly laugh above vanish “like breath from glass” as two warm hands close around hers “as if they were a nest for it” and recalling her name, Triss, “seemed a bit more natural” than her full name, Theresa, “like a book falling open on a much-viewed page”.

I do like each of these similes and metaphors… But I wonder if they all needed to be included in page 1 before Triss has even opened her eyes. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as purple prose… but maybe a hint of lilac is creeping in…

World Book Day 2015 Shelfies

So at my school, we are doing this to support World Book Day (5th March): take a Shelfie of your bookshelf. 

Here are mine:Edit

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