With the holiday I have been distracted and tired and not put together any words, but I have read the work of fiction that I thought may overlap a little with my subject.
I’m relieved to find that it doesn’t, and it was an excellent read in addition. I was a little sad when finishing it, though, that I didn’t feel any of the enormity of loss that I feel when I’ve finished a really earth-shattering book. All the blurbs promised a terrifically poignant & haunting afterglow, blah-di-blah, whereas all that I felt was a rather clinical admiration for the technical excellence of the early part of the novel. Possibly this is because my maternal feelings have not developed in the traditional way. I know what I mean.
Even though I have only put together a few hundred words for myself, I have found that the process has taken away a tiny part of the awe and wonder I feel in the face of a good story-teller. Where I used to think, ‘How on earth could that writer ever have linked these imaginary events together, or conceived of all these details?’ I now have just the tiniest inkling of how a narrative does come together in the telling. Even worse, perhaps, it’s given me a little arrogance – I felt more confident when reading this highly praised novel to say, ‘Oh, but actually that phrase doesn’t work so well,’ or, ‘That’s a little clunky,’ or, ‘You could have left that unsaid.’
The feeling I came away from this novel with was ‘I wish it had affected me more.’ It’s incredibly subjective, I know, and no story can be all things to all people. Perhaps there’s something in the way a story is resolved, but I’m not sure what it is. It could be absolutely devastating to finish a story with no happy ending, no redemption, no vindication; on the other hand, a story too neatly wrapped up may be filed in the memory banks under ‘Case Closed’, and nevermore thought upon. Probably sixteen years after I first encountered it, I have never come across a more perfect expression of what a story should be, or do, than this of Angela Carter:
“I wanted to write stories that could be read by guttering candlelight in ruins of our cities and still give pleasure, still have meaning.”