Sunday, 6 June 2010
Cop-out blog number two
I owe what will no doubt be the best bits of this blog to various pupils at unidentified schools and to whomever collected the examples I’ll be giving. I don’t know any of their names but I’d like to acknowledge their genius from the start. They’re all actual images used by the pupils in their essays. Most of all, they’re delicious examples of the wonderful effects of even the simplest words.
Critics like to categorise literature and identify movements and schools such as Symbolism, Romanticism, Dadaism and so on, so I’ve grouped them artificially in a pretence that they’re classifiable. It also allows me to pretend that I’m actually writing a blog that makes some sense (whereas I know I’m not). So I’m suggesting that the first three belong to the school of Balzac and Zola, the Realists.
• His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a tumble dryer.
• The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
• Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left York at 6:36 p.m. travelling at 55 mph, the other from Peterborough at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
You see? Factual, undeniable truths. And the next three, drawing their similes from the natural world are just as undeniably Naturalists.
• He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
• She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
• The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a lamppost.
Then come some budding social commentators, again with similes, this time anchoring their work in the gritty sociology of kitchen sink truths.
• It was a working class tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with their power tools.
• The plan was simple, like my brother Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
And finally, three writers who are clearly placing themselves in the tradition of the great Raymond Chandler.
• She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
• McMurphy fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a paper bag filled with vegetable soup.
• It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
This is just a selection – I don’t think my imagination would ever be able to match them, so back to work.