“There is a story told of a celebrated Russian dancer, who was asked by someone what she meant by a certain dance. She answered with some exasperation, ‘If I could say it in so many words, do you think I should take the very great trouble of dancing it?’ “
Thus begins Richard Hughes’ brief introduction to William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. (I assume this is Richard Hughes, the British writer, and not Richard Hughes, the horse jockey.)
The book arrived yesterday amid an avalanche of phone calls, visitors, appeals for help and sundry details such as – well, such as attempting to write, eat, and so on. When I cracked open the book, I was in the right state of mind for a wander through the fractured lens of Benjy’s narrative. In fact, I was tired enough to find a fractured narrative plain common sense. The kind where you give up all attempts at understanding and coast along for the ride. At some point, something will emerge, yes? The title to this post, for instance.
At this point in the writing process, this is exactly the case for me. A character goes through more or less familiar iterations. Annoying because other characters have been there and done that. Annoyance builds up (plus, real life phone calls, knocks on the door, etc). The character does something unexpected. Ah.
I’ll keep a trusty scribbling pad handy on my forays outside today. In case the Loch Ness monster decides to play peek-a-boo in the shoals of grammar, geometry, and the astounding short-cuts through history school children are expected to memorize as if their survival depended on knowing the precise date on which an illustrious stranger dipped his toe in something called the Rubicon. (Given all the other distractions in their day, Julius and the Rubicon get short shrift on the attention scale. Especially if the kid has finally convinced papa and/or maman to buy him those neat shoes that light up when you walk. Hey, come on – you were never a kid, maybe?)
Allez? Allee oop-oop oop oop-oop (a crucial rhythmic element in a popular song from the – 50’s? 60’s? I forget).