Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The anatomy of enjoyment ...

I've dragged myself away from the latest Kate Atkinson (Started Early, Took my Dog) partly in an effort not to gallop through it too swiftly (memories of childhood again: after the Saturday trip to the library I had to be careful to leave myself at least one book for the school week evenings), partly to note what I'm so enjoying in the process of exposition that I'm currently reading.

So - I note the skill with which the characters are introduced and are linked, like a flow-chart or the diagram of some organic chemistry process (very dimly recalled from school), as someone on the fringes of one character's observation becomes the focus of the next chapter, and so on. And I love the skill with which the necessary details are drawn in - the mental asides, the references to each character's past which give us just what we need to empathise, but never enough to bore with superfluity. I already feel I know two new people, as well as having a progress update on her recurring hero, Jackson Brodie (clever, that, to ensure that a newcomer to her books will know enough, without boring the afficionado).

And the writing. I now recognise what's going on - the fluidity of syntax which sits comfortably with the internal monologue that is part of all our lives, that conveys context and emotions, reaction and reasons. Much of it uses what in another context might be regarded as a spot of comma-splice, but it isn't: the stream of consciousness rarely makes mistakes but rather defies the rigidity from which in another life I fought to release my students.

Right. I think I'm about to have another Lemsip and read some more. But can I share one final joy? I'm reading the book in hardback (it was a gift) - and it has its own silky attached bookmark, like the ones in a lectern bible. How civilised is that?


  1. books with bookmarks are the epitome of civilisation, and a hardback novel a valid form of self indulgence, and there is no equivalent pleasure in a Kindle:) Recover quick and keep well Chris - grannies are a necessary presence at Christmas!

  2. Why have you turned into a Russian singing ensemble?

  3. Aaagh! Thanks for bringing this to my attention - I was setting up a blog for them and allowed it to appear on my profile! It should be ok now ...

  4. I don't pretend to understand a word of that. I thought the Siberian conditions had got to you in a novel way.