Monday, April 23, 2007

jar these mountains till they fall

I started reading John Henry Days. I’m on page 24 and have a couple of prose issues, but I am trying to be big about it and continue. Mostly I find it overwritten. Too many irritating and uncomfortable adjectives. But it came highly recommended, and maybe the charm of the underlying myth can save it. We’ll see. There are raving blurbs all over it, and I’ve changed my mind before (John Banville’s Athena, for example).

Consider: He waits for one of those dull marchers to open a fanny pack, turn rigid in horror, and retrace steps to rescue the lost receipt as the wheels of their plastic luggage carve evanescent grooves in the purple carpet behind them. (The poetic "evanescent" irks here, though the sentence was already threatening to reel out of control.)

No one was going to fight him over a receipt lost on the floor, tumbleweeding from gate to gate as footfall gusts urged it to some far corner. (“Tumbleweeding” made me cringe, but the rigid horror of “footfall gusts” nearly made me forget.)

J. sits in the backseat of a car of recent vintage. (Groan.)

It is a time of checking and rechecking of clasps and buckles and latches throughout the body of the plane, an assembly of minutiae that might make a liftoff. He is always up in the air. (The character is in the plane, ok, and you may recognize up in the air as a bad pun.)

Yeager Airport, named after Brigadier General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, or so he reads on a well-polished bronze plaque. Chuck Yeager is a native son. No wonder he took flight. (Another amazing pun!)

I am trying to loosen up. I apologize to anyone whose experience I have ruined, and I may soon be eating my words.

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