Sunday, January 31, 2010

Smug-pug, c'est moi

Have you ever encountered a voice in fiction that's so like that of someone you know in real life that you're totally freaked out? To the point that you can't stop supplying a projected subtext to the work at hand that you know isn't warranted or at all fair? To the point that the entire novel is tainted by an unwavering sense of foreknowledge as to what you'll have confirmed about the author once you seek out the biographical material, no matter how often you tell yourself not to confuse the writer with her creation?

Such was my experience with Novel on Yellow Paper.

I'd gone into it expecting much enjoyment--I've had a fondness since high school for "Not Waving But Drowning," the one Stevie Smith poem I'd read but had never forgotten. But Pompey Casmilus is such an aural doppelganger to this, ah, real-life counterpart of mine, who continually puts me in the smug-pug foot-on-the-ground role as I'm called upon to save her yet again from drowning, that I found no charm in Pompey's voice--I've become immune over the years to such techniques and no longer appreciate freewheeling tangents meant to detract and delay us both from dealing with the problem at hand. (And that's a pity: I'm Southern and ordinarily love a good tangent.)

My apologies to my fellow Slaves. Maybe I can read this one again some day with a more disinterested ear.


  1. Hmmm...I've wondered about this one for years...

  2. Anonymous10:32 PM

    Ha, yes, I've had that experience and it's eerie, isn't it? I haven't read a totally gung-ho review of this novel yet, and yet I remain oddly intrigued.

  3. I've had that kind of experience - sort of. I can't read The Secret Life of Bees without hearing my sister's voice. It is written with the same cadence as her speech.


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