he curses the child that he seems to drag around with him wherever he goes

My favourite bit is the use of the parenthesis.

As he says it, he curses the child that he seems to drag around with him wherever he goes, and who always shoots his gob off at precisely the wrong moment, embarrassing the all-too-fragile construction of this grown-up Michael (watching). Surely she is wondering what on earth she is doing here with a baby face, on the verge of embarrassing tears.

The Time We Have Taken, Steven Carroll pg 42

Fourth estate 2007

Reading to put your brain in the right state – Steven Carroll, The Time We Have Taken

When I’m working on something, I like to read from any of my favourite books to put my brain in the right frame of mind. You know, slow it down a bit and find a rhythm. I pick up a book and open to any page and read. Today’s read was from Steven Carroll’s The Time We Have Taken pg 132  (Fourth Estate paperback 2007)

You can see the influence from one of Steven Carroll’s favourite authors, Proust, in the long sentences, the rhythm, and the use of the senses.

The smell of previous-night’s-beer is unmistakable. And with the whiff of old beer she is simultaneously seeing Vic falling through the front door, stumbling through the house, and that old familiar feeling of wretchedness is upon her once again, and the memory of that wretched madness that swelled her heart to the point of exploding all those years ago is now more than a memory. It’s a smell. And smells make things happen all over again. And she knows she doesn’t want these memories again, but knows they won’t go till the smell does. Then she sees further signs of disruption, even as she’s dwelling on this business of smell and weight and love and why it had to be like that. For she has entered Michael’s old bedroom, which has changed little since he left, and noticed immediately that the bed has been disturbed. Slept in. And with the observation comes an involuntary shiver. A half-hearted attempt has been made to make it, a quilt thrown over the bed almost contemptuously. Brazenly. And as this strangers perfume– which she knows to be a common, cheap scent that young girls these days go for — as this strangers perfume mingles with the sight of the shabbily remade bed, the word ‘tart’ comes to her again. And she is convinced that Michael has not only sneaked back into the house when she was not there like some creature with guilt written all over his face, he has dragged a tart back into their house, her house, with him. And she knows straight away that this is not the act of her Michael, upon whom she rested the weight of the love she was left with (when Vic couldn’t carry it any more), her Michael who had always told her that her dresses were just right when the street sneered. No, it wasn’t him, but some other Michael with a tart in his ear.

Passages of Writing: The Time We have Taken, Steven Carroll



Book: The Time We Have Taken by Steven Carroll. Fourth Estate 2007.


Why: I could quote thousands of passages from Steven Carroll’s books simply because his style is brilliant. But I love this one simply for the words ‘honeyed wedge’. It’s a sort of ‘wish I’d written that’ moment as when I read it I had been struggling to find the right words for the exact same scene myself. Honeyed wedge, damn it, wish I’d got there first.


Then he is on the footpath and the honeyed wedge of light in her doorway disappears. The road curves up the hill to the university grounds, and, as he walks up the footpath, he occasionally glances back, half expecting to see something or someone, but not sure who or what.

Steven Carroll. p 240.

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