I want to show you something I’m reading about sentences. Let me know your thoughts.
The main point is this: “There are no descriptions in fiction, there are only constructions.” (this reading is from Philosophy and the Form of Fiction by William H Gass)
We start with a paragraph describing a character named Magister Nicholas Udal. (from The Fifth Queen, Ford Maddox Ford)
Next, we look at removing the colon, and placing that sentence at the end of the paragraph to see how that changes our comprehension of the character.
Next, the possessives related to clothing are removed, the ‘his doctor’s gown’ is changed to ‘a doctor’s gown’ and the same with the cap.
And then the same is done with Udal’s features.
Next, he plays around by letting him own his clothes but not his face:
from Philospophy and the Form of Fiction by William H Gass.
AS William H Gass was said to be the first to coin the term metafiction, I thought I’d post the paragraph in which he does. It’s from Philosophy and the Form of Fiction, an essay from his 1971 collection, Fiction and the Figures of Life, and he entertains us with a bit of attitude.
There are metatheorems in mathematics and logic, ethics has its linguistic oversoul, everywhere lingos to converse about lingos are being contrived, and the case is no different in the novel. I don’t mean merely those drearily predictable pieces about writers who are writing about what they are writing, but those, like some of the work of Borges, Barth, and Flann O’Brien, for example, in which the forms of fiction serve as the material upon which further forms can be imposed. Indeed, many of the so-called antinovels are really metafictions.
WORKING on my collation of, and obsession with, metafiction written by women, I’ve just now finished reading Jane Eyre. Why it’s taken me so long to get to this wonderful book I don’t know, actually I do know, I started many times but the dated phrasing and the occasional long-winded sentences were a bit of a block. Urged on by my Instagram friends, I dove in and committed to it. So glad I did!
AS far as the meta-fiction classification goes, Jane Eyre comes under the umbrella of a novel where the narrator intentionally exposes herself as the author of the story. This is done in such a delicate and lovely way, simple and engaging. Throughout the book, Jane, our narrator, slips in moments of addressing the reader, many times she calls to our attention by addressing us, “Reader….” and proceeds to tell us something of her intimate thoughts. The most famous, Reader, I married him. It’s delightful and personal, and endears us to her as we become again and again her private confident.
Having read this lovely work, I’m now going on to read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I’ve read WSS before, but as it’s written as a prequel and response to Jane Eyre, I’m dying to dive back in with a new interest.
I’m starting another book, and this is what I now know about my writing process.
I now know that what other authors say about writing a book – that the writing of every book is no easier than the first – is a fact I have found to be true, but there are other things that I know, and the knowing makes it a calmer and enjoyable process, perhaps more enjoyable than those books that came after the first, and before the most recent.
I now know that it takes me at least a year to write a book, (others are faster and churn out a few per year, or are slower). I’ve learnt this about my style, and so I know not to expect myself to be quicker. I know that I need to make a plan for a book, and that the end result will only barely resemble that initial plan, but I need to make the plan, regardless. I know I will make many drafts, the first will be sketchy and shallow, the last will be a long and satisfying process of examining every word’s relevance in every sentence. I know that when I have finally completed that book, edited and laid out how a finished book should be, and told everyone that I have finished, the truth will be that I have, in fact, not finished. Three months later I will write one more of at least two more drafts, and I also know, that this process from start to finish is all part of what I find to be the most enjoyable part of writing a book.
Somehow I completely missed last year’s challenge. Apparently, I signed up, can’t remember that! And then proceeded to be unwell all year, so let’s start fresh!
I’m going for the Franklin Challenge this year. I will read at least ten novels by Australian women, and review a few. This is more than I usually commit to, but I’ve found Aussie women’s books are so engaging and gritty and satisfying to read that I want an excuse (and impetus) to read more. My reviews will be short this year, to free up time for my own writing and lots more reading. I’m also committing to the Classics challenge within the Aus Women’s challenge, reading at least two Aussie classics.
Ressurection Bay (crime fiction) by Emma Viskic:
WINNER OF THE DAVITT AWARDS’ Best Adult Novel, Best Debut Book, Readers’ Choice Award. WINNER OF THE NED KELLY AWARD for Best First Fiction
Blurb: Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.
This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself. (details from Echo Publishing )
and for the Classic part of the Challenge I will start off with Human Toll by Barabara Baynton (Literary Fiction) published in 1907. I may ‘read’ part of it as an audio as it’s a difficult read, full of Aussie slang.
The audio is free online in a few places : LibriVox, ZippyShare, YouTube. Sue at Whispering Gums writes an excellent post on barbara Baynton and her writings. There are papers on Human Toll at Australian Feminist Studies and Uni of Woolongong, but I have yet to find a review, let me know if you see one or write one!
Blurb: WHAT was this blocking the tallow-scoop? Boshy, secretly styled ‘The Lag, ‘ or ‘One Eye, ‘ bent to see. Leisurely he thrust down a groping hand and drew up, but not out, a fatclogged basil-belt. Hastily his other hand clawed it conferringly, then with both he forced it back again into its greasy hidingplace of past long years. Cautiously his one eye went from door to window, then he rolled the fat-can with its mouth to the wall, and, going out, he took a sweeping survey. The sky and plain still drowsed dreamily, and neither the sick Boss’s home, nor Nungi the half-caste’s hut on the other side of the riversplit plain, showed sign of smoke. The only gleam of life was a breath-misted string of cows filing leisurely but lovingly to their penned calves. Boshy entered the hut and shut and bolted both door and window, then rolled the precious casket, a rusty nail-keg, before the door, and to further insure his sense of security sat on it. He made no attempt to examine his treasure. He was certain the contents of that gold-lined belt were old Miser Baldy’s hoard. For a few moments he sat quivering, gloating greedily. Musingly his one eye roamed all over the hut. Not a splinter in the walls that he, and many others, had not probed as with a tooth-pick, for this coveted ‘plant’; not a crack or mortised joint in the roof; not a mouse-hole but had been tunnelled to the bitter end, for tenant above or below. Nor had the search stopped at the hut, for had not a night-ghouling Chinaman, in his hunt for this hoard, gone the dauntless but fruitless length of disinterring and stripping poor old Baldy? And now just by a fluke he had struck it. Could it be true? Was he only dreaming? And again he thrust in a confirming hand. ‘Gord A’mighty!’ burst from him as his felt certainty electrified him