Saturday, February 18, 2017

Showing, not telling...

"This time, as a token of his master's love, the messenger brought a handful of earth and a handful of salt, an ancient Bactrian custom that was observed persisting as late as the seventeenth century, according to the accounts of Tavernier and Chardin. But Arsaphes, driven by the obduracy of the princess and feeling victory within his grasp, added to the traditional offering two partridge eggs, one painted blue and the other red. The princess easily saw their significance, mysterious as it may seem to us. The colored eggs meant that though women may not look exactly alike, in the end they taste alike.
"Princess Heloise was worthy of the captain's admiration. She knew how to answer insolence. She sent back the lieutenant with two flasks which looked as though they contained water, but when Arsaphes tasted them, he found that while the first was indeed full of water, the second held the strongest and headiest rye brandy he had ever drunk. He then realized that while people may no doubt look alike, some are insipid and dull while others burn and intoxicate."
The Glory of the Empire, by Jean D'Ormesson, pg. 25

The other problem...

"The other problem with [Rikki Tikki Tavi]--not that there are any real problems with the story, it's a good story...but it's sad to think of such a likable mongoose eating holes in the baby cobra eggs. The baby cobras hadn't killed anything or frightened anyone. They would when they hatched out, because that's what cobra snakes are designed to do naturally. But a story should not have a small, tiny, curled-up barely alive animal be killed unless it has done a terrible thing, which it can't have done because it hasn't even uncurled itself from the egg. And the story isn't about what cobras do naturally, anyway, since it has cobras speaking. In real life they don't speak, at least in English. A cobra couldn't call itself 'Nag' or 'Nagaina' because the cobra's tongue is so thin it couldn't make an N sound. A cobra would probably call itself 'Lah,' if anything."
The Everlasting Story of Nory, by Nicholson Baker, pg. 36




Sunday, January 29, 2017

Two for the price of one...


"And if any such thing should occur, understand that I would hold all three of you equally guilty and would mete out my vengeance accordingly. She, he, and you."
"We would be four, madam. A man who has been warned is worth two ordinary men."
The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars, by Maurice Dekobra, pg. 95