Passages of Writing: Truth by Peter Temple.


Book: Truth, Peter temple. First pub: The Text Publishing Company 2009. This ed: The Text Publishing Company 2010. pbk.

Why: he could have said, ‘ran his fingers through his hair.’ Which is very boring. No, he was consulting his hair. They had a meeting. Stalling and having a think. Big difference.

‘Explain the building to me Mr. Manton, Just an outline.’

Manton’s right hand consulted his hair.

P8

Passages of Writing: Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

Book:  Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley. First pub: Penguin 1928. This edition: Penguin 1974.

Why: I love the juxtaposition and banter of the two conversations at once, both ignoring the other. It’s how I plan to get my teenage children to their next immunizations. And, I hope to manage a similar interaction in my own book.

His terror, his anxious impatience became almost hysterical.

‘No. I can’t, I really can’t,’ he protested when Spandrell had told him that he must spend the evening at Tantamount House.

‘All the same,’ said the other, ‘you’re damned well going to,’ and he headed the car into the mall. ‘I’ll drop you at the door.’

‘No, really!’

‘And if necessary kick you in.’

‘But I couldn’t stand being there, I couldn’t stand it.’

‘This is an extremely nice car,’ said Spandrell pointedly changing the subject. ‘Delightful to drive.’

‘I couldn’t stand it,’ Illidge whimperingly repeated.

‘I believe the makers guarantee a hundred miles an hour on the track.’

They turned up past St James’s Palace into Pall Mall.

‘Here you are,’ said Spandrell, drawing up at the Kerb. Obediently, Illidge got out…

P397

Passages of Writing: Money by Martin Amis.

 

 

Book: Money, Martin Amis. First pub 1984 Vintage. This Ed. Vintage 2005 pbk.

Why: Martin Amis has a way of putting things and I can’t help but be envious. This is really one of my favourite books.

 

 

We banked, and hit a deep welt or grapple-ridge in the road: to the sound of a riffle-shot the cab roof ducked down and smacked me on the core of my head. I really didn’t need that, I tell you…

pg1.

Passages of Writing: Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

 

I turned to stone waiting for you

Book:  Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley. First pub: Penguin 1928. This edition: Penguin 1974.

 

Why: Oh the suspense of waiting and the agony of disappointment. All those short sentences and heart beats. I wanted to cut it down more than I did but I couldn’t without messing with the pacing. Also had trouble stopping. Haven’t we all been there? Hope it’s not just me. So stressful to be there with poor Marjorie. Believed every word of it.

 

 

A taxi turned into the street, suddenly and startlingly breaking the silence. Marjorie sat up in bed, listening. The hum of the engine grew louder and louder. It was Walter’s taxi; this time she felt sure of it, she knew. Nearer it came and nearer. At the bottom of the little hill on the right of the house, the driver changed down to a lower gear; the engine hummed more shrilly, like an angry wasp. Nearer and nearer. She was possessed by an anxiety that was of the body as well as of the mind. She felt breathless, her heart beat strongly and irregularly – beat, beat, beat and then it seemed to fail; the expected beat did not make itself felt; it was as though a trap-door had been opened beneath her into the void; she knew the terror of emptiness, of falling, falling – and the next retarded beat was the impact of her body against solid earth. Nearer, nearer. She almost dreaded, though she had so unhappily longed for, his return. She dreaded the emotions she would feel at the sight of him; the tears she would shed, the reproaches she would find herself uttering, in spite of herself. And what would he say and do, what would be in his thoughts? She was afraid of imagining. Nearer; the sound was just below her windows; it retreated, it diminished. And she had been so certain that it was Walter’s taxi. She lay down again. If only she could have slept. But the physical anxiety of her body would not allow her. The blood thumped in her ears. Her skin was hot and dry. Her eyes ached. She lay quite still, on her back, her arms crossed on her breast, like a dead woman laid out for burial. Sleep, sleep, she whispered to herself;…suddenly, a malicious hand seemed to pluck at her taut nerves. A violent tic contracted the muscles of her limbs; she started as though with terror. And the physical reaction of fear evoked an emotion in her mind, quickening and intensifying the anxiety of unhappiness which, all the time, had underlain her conscious efforts to achieve tranquility…she allowed her misery to come to the surface of her mind. ‘Why should he want to make me so unhappy?’…

 

P151

Passages of Writing: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers.

Book: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. First Published 1940. This edition: Penguin Classics 2008.

Why: It’s such a sweet way to describe it, and who doesn’t do it? But there’s more to it than that, it’s a question: why would she need to?

She shut her eyes and went into the inside room.

p 160. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

Passages of Writing: Animal people, Charlotte Wood.

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Book: Animal People by Charlotte Wood.  Allen & Unwin 2011. This edition: e-book, Allen & Unwin, 2011.

Why: Charlotte Wood’s writing is always grounded and insightful but never pretentious. The characters are so real I want to cringe as a human to be seeing how we know people speak right there on the page:

‘So who organised the lesbian? ‘…Belinda snickered into her mineral water… (p233)

And,

‘It’s sort of boho, ‘Fiona said…’ which doesn’t really suit her.’ When he asked why not, Cathy said drily, ‘because she’s more ho than bo,’and Fiona snorted into her glass. (P202)

Writers are always taking the time to slow the reader down to think about things in a way that is normally missed. It’s one of the things I love about writing. And it’s a little bit disarming to think that someone may be listening to the way you eat an apple from another room.

He heard her set a knife down in the chopping board before going to answer the door.

He had never before known the cadences of a person’s movements like this, except in his own family, as a child. It was not just her tread; footsteps were easy, especially here in Fiona’s house when there were just the two of them and the girls, whose hard little heels struck the floorboards like mallets. But even elsewhere, in other houses, in shops, he could tell Fiona’s presence by the sound and rhythm of her movements: keys in a handbag, the taking of a breath. Surely humans could only breathe in so many ways – inhalation, exhalation could not possibly be so individual – but still, he always knew her. He knew the sounds of her swallow, her bite of an apple from another room.

p.190 Animal people by Charlotte Wood

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