Monday, December 01, 2003

Order of explanation. "I do worry about the duck in the cold. She's probably awake. We have a duck that lives in a doghouse outside. At night we drape a blanket over the doghouse and put a portable window screen over its front entrance. The screen is there to keep out foxes and coyotes. There is a red fox that lives on the hill with a bushy horizontal tail that is almost as big as he is, and at night sometimes you can hear the coyotes hooting from the fields on the other side of the river." -- Nicholson Baker, A Box of Matches.
These sentences might be clearer if rearranged. But they are better -- closer to speech -- as they are.
Bonus example of Nicholson Baker's skill at loose association of ideas: "On New Year's morning this year Claire got us to drive to the ocean to watch the sun rise. That outing was what made me suddenly understand that I needed to start reading Robert Service again and getting up early -- that New Year's outing combined with the time a few months ago when I took the night sleeper car from Washington to Boston and woke up in my bunk and pulled the curtain to look out the window and saw that we were in the station in New York City, and I realized that I was passing through a very important center of commerce without seeing a single street and that something similar was happening in my life."
[A Box of Matches, by Nicholson Baker, Chatto & Windus, 2003. Sort of a return to the earlier books, with setting and narrator's character made more obtrusive.]

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