Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Sumptuous Meal...

In Chapter 5 of Francine Prose’s How to Write Like a Writer, she writes:

All this should begin to give us an idea of the different options available when a writer is choosing to write a story from a particular point of view, or when, as more often seems to be the case, the story is choosing the point of view from which it wishes to be written. To speak as if there were two major points of view - first and third - is like saying that the only thing we need to know in order to prepare and enjoy a delicious multicourse dinner is that there are five basic food groups.

I’m a quarter of the way through Joshua Ferris’ debut novel Then We Came to the End and already I know I’m sitting in the kitchen of a five-star master chef:
While waiting for Lynn to arrive, we killed time listening to Chris Yop tell us the story of Tom Mota’s chair. We loved killing time and had perfected several ways of doing so. We wandered the hallways carrying papers that indicated some mission of business when in reality we were in search of free candy. We refilled our coffee mugs on floors we didn’t belong on. Hank Neary was an avid reader. He arrived early in his brown corduroy coat with a book taken from the library, copied all its pages on the Xerox machine, and sat at his desk reading what looked to passerby like the honest pages of business.

And this is a gorgeously decadent slice of pecan pie (I’m real partial to pecan pie):
Jim made us wince with awkwardness, but we winced for his sake. Joe Poe’s awkwardness caused an entirely different brand of wincing and it was hard to put a finger on. “ ‘He was not only awkwardness in himself,’ ” declared our own poetaster Hank Neary, “ ‘but the cause that was awkwardness in other men.’ ” And like always, we had no earthly clue what Hank was talking about. Unless he meant to say that Joe Pope’s presence made us feel awkward. That was very true. Joe felt no obligation to speak. He would greet and be greeted like a normal human being, but beyond that he remained brazenly, stoically silent. Even in a meeting or a conference call, the man could let long episodes of silence fill the room while he was thinking of what he wanted to say, without hemming and hawing nervously in order to fill the oppressive silence bearing down upon us all. Perhaps that could be called composure, but it made the rest of us uneasy, so much so that Hank, determined to get it right, returned with a second quote pulled form his infinite lode of worthless erudition - “ ‘He inspired uneasiness. That was it! Uneasiness! Not a definite mistrust - just uneasiness - nothing more.’ ” - and when that quote went from one of us to the other via e-mail, we congratulated Hank on finally saying something comprehensible. Uneasiness. That was it precisely.