Wednesday, December 29, 2010


No amount of rereading can make this sentence better. Or even make it make sense.

"One day, the writer would recognize the near simultaneity of connected but dissimilar momentous events - these are what move a story forward - but at the moment Danny lost consciousness in Carmella's sweet-smelling arms, the exhausted boy had merely been thinking: How coincidental is this? (He was too young to know that, in any novel with a reasonable amount of forethought, there were no coincidences.)" - from Last Night in Twisted River

John Irving wrote that, a writer who once wrote my favorite book (A Prayer for Owen Meany). A writer who has said something to the effect of, I don't write well, but I rewrite well. Makes me wonder what the first draft looked like.

Other flinch-worthy moments include writing Italian accents like they were written for 60's pizza commercials: "Say-a no more, Dominic - we don't-a need to know why, or who you're running from!"  and awkward race distinctions like this (contrasting an Italian with a Native American): "Her olive-brown skin was not unlike Jane's reddish-brown coloring; her slightly flattened nose and broad cheekbones were the same, as were her dark-brown eyes - like Jane's, Carmella's eyes were almost as black as her hair."  Reddish-brown coloring? Really? 'Cause she's an injun?

Really? Really, John Irving? I'm still going to finish it. It's still John Irving.


hedera said...

If it was the first sentence, we could enter it in the Bulwer Lytton contest.

piglet said...

Yes! Except the Bulwer-Lytton contest winners usually have a beginning, middle and end. This one has a beginning, end, middle, another beginning, another end, and an aside. Or something.

SeattleDan said...

I guess even good writers come up with some clunkers. What's surprising is that Irving's editor didn't tell him he ought to re-work the sentence. But maybe the editor thought, well he's John freaking Irving and who am I tell to him anything.

piglet said...

Dan, his editor may have just been glad there were no semicolons in it.