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Novelist's corner

Discussion in 'Book club' started by In_You_Go_Jones, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Exciting news! The Head of English here this morning set the excerpt from my novel (below) as an appreciation exercise for his Year 12 'A' Level group. He didn't tell them who the author was. Can't wait to see the results.
    'It's a slow Saturday in mid-December. **** looks out through the darkening conservatory and snow clouds blanket Hillingdon. Snow falling like petals from the whitethorns of spring; snow drifting in oblique sheets over the Grand Union Canal at Uxbridge where sometimes on early summer morning jogs **** used to see the former boxer and now painter, the late Kevin Finnegan, at work at his easel. Snow. Everywhere. Snowing in finely granulated powder, in damp spongy flakes, in thin, feathery plumes, snowing from a leaden sky steadily, snowing fiercely, shaken out of grey-black clouds in white flocculent dustings, or dropping in long low lines, like white spears gliding down from the silent heavens. But always silently!'
     
  2. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Oh Flocc off will you!!
     
  3. What is a whitethorn of spring?
     
  4. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Ah. Hawthorn. Crataegus monogyna
     
  6. right, so far we have:
    snow falling like petals
    snow drifting
    snow in finely granulated powder
    snow in damp spongy flakes
    snow in thin feathery plumes
    snow falling steadily
    snow shaken
    snow in white flocculent dustings
    snow dropping in long low lines.

    Is this all happening in one day.....in the same place?

     
  7. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Must be written by an <strike>Eskimo</strike> Inuit, as in I knew it!!
     
  8. Or whitethorn as we call it in Hillingdon.
     
  9. This is my favourite!
     
  10. Burndenpark

    Burndenpark Star commenter

    Yeah right
    Gene? The same gene who suggested meeting KR, nagged for weeks (expecting that Durham to London would rather rule it out) pooped himself when KR agreed and then after failing to show up posted under a ranger of sock names to say that the THREE well known poster who did show up were all lying?
    That Gene?
    The same Gene who keep issuing challenges to the likes of Dawkings in Geoff Robertson - but only on TES- never in person though he has been directed to their personal/ business e-mails?

    Do you really see that Gene showing up to fight a duel?
     
  11. Burndenpark

    Burndenpark Star commenter

    He's often been several "different" characters at the same time- often on the same thread, but at least he usually agreed with his other poster names.
     
  12. Where has In You Go got to with the Year 12 appreciations?
     
  13. Burndenpark

    Burndenpark Star commenter

    I don't know but I get the feeling that they will all have a strangely familiar "voice".
     
  14. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    Has anyone read God's Little Acre? The name is vaguely familiar but I know nothing about the book. Sounds Little Women-ish. Though I guess that's no bad thing.
     
  15. I've read Dear and Glorious Physician (a novel on the life of Saint Paul) by the same author Erskine Caldwell. It's very good.
     
  16. Theophilus

    Theophilus New commenter

    No, but the Oxford Book of Humorous Prose has a spoof called God's Little Best Seller. The opening sentence is

    Georgia has more girls with erect breasts than any other state in the Union, and that's a fact.

    Erect breasts feature prominently in the rest of the text,
     
  17. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    Blimey, I've just read a synopsis of the book. Little Women it's not! Sounds a bit racy for me..
     
  18. Sorry, Dear and Glorious Physician is by Taylor Caldwell. My New Year resolution was to stop coming in and posting after I've been in Wetherspoons.
     
  19. I hope no-one will mind a mere student gate-crashing a forum for teachers &ndash; it feels a bit like sneaking into the staffroom after hours, but I did want to ask people what they thought about this.
    I&rsquo;m in year 13 and doing A level English and last week our teacher set us a practical criticism exercise. He gave us out this passage which he said is the first paragraph of a novel written by a friend of his &ndash; Porter, Porthole, some name like that. Anyway he asked us to read it and make notes on it as a passage of unseen prose. The thing is, I think that our teacher may be taking the mickey out of us &ndash; we all thought that this paragraph was so terrible it couldn&rsquo;t possibly have been published unless the author had paid to have it done. But as none of us are well-read enough to know, can anyone tell us who might have written this, or the name of novel it appears in? I&rsquo;ve written it out in normal font and added my comments in italics.


    <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="margin:auto auto auto 36pt;" class="MsoNormalTable"><tr><td style="background-color:transparent;border:#ece9d8;padding:0cm;">'It's slow Saturday in mid-December&rsquo;.
    Slow as opposed to what? What does a fast Saturday, or a medium paced Saturday feel like? Meaningless and pretentious use of an adjective, a tiresome trick that was old hat when Dylan Thomas pinched it.
    Eugene O&rsquo;Nanist looks out through the darkening conservatory and snow clouds blanket Hillingdon.
    ? It sounds as if the snow clouds blanketing Hillingdon are doing so because Eugene is looking out through the darkening conservatory and I can&rsquo;t see a reason why this should be so. The two halves of this sentence don&rsquo;t belong together.[/i]
    Snow falling like petals from the whitethorns of spring; snow drifting in oblique sheets over the Grand Union Canal at Uxbridge where sometimes on early summer morning jogs O&rsquo;Nanist used to see the former boxer and now painter, the late Kevin Finnegan, at work at his easel.
    If Kevin Finnegan is dead, how come he is now a painter? Sloppy syntax here &ndash; can a writer balance an adjective with an adverb? And Kevin Finnegan seems to be dumped into the narrative so the writer can show off &ndash; if the contrast between a snowy winter&rsquo;s day and a summer morning is to pull its weight it should make a point. This doesn&rsquo;t seem to.
    Snow. Everywhere. Snowing in finely granulated powder, in damp spongy flakes, in thin, feathery plumes, snowing from a leaden sky steadily, snowing fiercely, shaken out of grey-black clouds in white flocculent dustings, or dropping in long low lines, like white spears gliding down from the silent heavens.
    This seems to be an attempt at some kind of lyrical description but it comes across as the sort of thing that would happen if Jeffrey Archer tried to imitate Iris Murdoch. The whole paragraph uses eight ways to say that it is snowing, but does nothing with this diarrhoea of repetition except, well, repeat.
    But always silently!'
    Please help if you can &ndash; I have to pass this exercise in on Monday and I don&rsquo;t want to make a complete fool of myself. Unlike the author, who seems to be trying to make himself into a laughing stock.
     
  20. Dear Lit Crit Girl,
    You have rightly identified that the extract is crud and and you have demonstrated why it is crud. You contrast it with the work of writers who are not crud and compare it with those who are.
    You may however wish to consider the following before you submit your homework. You say that the snow paragraph resembles Jeffrey Archer. I have not read his work extensively but if I have correctly taken the measure of it, people would be having sex in the snow by the middle of the paragraph. Iris Murdoch would give us to understand that the snow had a philosophical meaning but wouldn't give any clues as to what that meaning might be. Such nuances would go over Jeffrey's head, so he'd bung in a couple sh*gging.
    You say the only effect of the paragraph is pointless repetition. I would disagree. Firstly, it raises the question of how snow can fall out of a sky which is made of lead. Secondly, the descriptions of 'finely granulated powder', 'white...dustings' and 'lines' raise questions about the writer's recreational activities and what he really does when he says he's going for a walk by the canal. The 'damp spongy flakes' suggest images of mould, and indeed the piece as a whole has a musty, rotten odour.
    I would avoid dissing Dylan Thomas in your A Level exam. You are, as we know, still a schoolgirl and crusty old teachers might think you're getting uppity.


     

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