I’m reading Tinkers, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, by Paul Harding. The novel revolves around a dying man who spent his life repairing clocks. Brought down by cancer and kidney failure, time is running out for George. He has only days to live, and his hospital bed has been moved to the living room where family can keep an eye on him.
Drifting between consciousness and drug-induced hallucinations, George remembers his father, an itinerant, epileptic, peddler who eked out a hardscrabble living in rural Maine.
The writing is very good. There are dozens of passages that caught my writer’s eye, but I was attracted to the following:
“This is a book. It is a book I found in a box. I found the box in the attic. The box as in the attic, under the eaves. The attic was hot and still. The air was stale with dust. The dust was from old pictures and books. The dust in the air was made up of the book I found. I breathed the book before I saw it; I tasted the book before I read it. The book has a red marbled cover. It has large pages. The pages are made of heavy paper the color of blanched almonds.”
- Notice the repetition of key words and the thrust of one sentence to the next.
- Try this technique yourself. Choose a subject. Write a short sentence about it. Then take one key word from your first sentence and use that in your second sentence. Continue in this vein linking your sentences and forming a chain.
- If you need an extra challenge, bring your chain full-circle.
- Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day. According to Merriam-Webster, the ten most common words related to that day are the following: romantic, valentine, amour, Adonis, aphrodisiac, infatuation, Casanova, unrequited, saccharine, and sweetheart.
- These words are so trite that they are not attractive in themselves, but if you choose to use one of these words in your first sentence, where might that word take you?
Our names are out there. I must say that I feel a bit queasy when I go to Amazon.com and they welcome me with a cheery, “Hello, Doris! Based on your previous orders, we think you’d like to read…” Or Netflix. “Based on your penchant for foreign films, we think you’d like to see…”
If you use a customer loyalty card, your buying habits are analyzed. The company knows you better than you consciously know yourself. Do you buy high-end imported cheeses, or do you buy low-fat or no-fat? Perhaps you buy processed cheese. Maybe you buy two jars of Cheez Whiz every week. What do your buying habits reveal about you?
The store benefits in terms of inventory control and stocking like-items to match their customers’ preferences. But in addition, they can sell your buying habits, your name, address, and E-mail which you gave them when you applied for your card.
Someplace, in a glossy, glassy high-rise, someone is taking my grocery details and adding them to dozens of other bits of information that are up for sale and have been sold. It makes me wonder exactly how much of my life is out there.
A couple of years ago, on an airport shuttle bus between Colorado Springs and Denver International, I met a woman who was a professional fund-raiser. Her speciality was helping non-profits turn their red balance black.
When she interviewed for the fund-raising position, she was told that the success of the company was based on data collection. Why send out 10,000 appeals when through careful data collection and analysis, you could narrow the target, send out 100 appeals and strike gold?
Somewhat skeptical, the woman asked to see her own profile. And there before her eyes were 200 bits of information. She was shocked by the intrusiveness and the sheer volume of the data. The woman did accept the job, but she also put an end to all of her Internet transactions to include her on-line banking and direct debit accounts.
Last week I was shocked myself. When you write a blog, you can see the number of people who view your blog daily. You also can see what words bring search engine users to your site. And I was gob-smacked. On one particular day, 16 people came to my site via a search engine. And ten of those 16 were looking at my site because of two words, p**e dan**r.
I cannot use those words together because I do not want to encourage any more horny guys. But employ a bit of closure here, and you will discern the subject of my blog.
Months ago I wrote about a married woman, a mother of a three-year-old, who had broken her neck and subsequently died while working out. She had been hanging upside down from one of those things that firemen slide down. It is all the rage: this dancing around one of those things that vaulters use in the Olympics.
Color me conservative and up-tight, but I am seriously offended to think that my blog would attract “that sort” of reader. I’ve learned my lesson. Better late than never.