Posts Tagged ‘nature’

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It’s About Time

January 7, 2011

I finally read some Truman Capote. He is the story teller we all aspire to be, he has it all polished and perfected. I don’t know why we try, when he has done it so well. This first one shows how truly talented writers can capture what we see in the sky during special hours of the day. The second one is an example of describing someone without making it cliche and uncreative. Every word in the paragraph is important and enhances our view of Joel, the main character. I wish I could write a paragraph where every word is needed. Masterful story-telling all through-out. READ IT.

Excerpt #83:
And now dusk was coming on. A sea of deepening green spread the sky like some queer wine, and across this vast green, shadowed clouds were pushed sluggishly by a mild breeze. (27)

Excerpt #84:
Radclif eyed the boy over the rim of his beer glass, not caring much for the looks of him. He had his notions of what a “real” boy should look like, and this kid somehow offended them. He was too pretty, too delicate and fair-skinned; each of his features was shaped with a sensitive accuracy, and a girlish tenderness softened his eyes, which were brown and very large. His brown hair, cut short, was streaked with pure yellow strands. A kind of tired, imploring expression masked his thin face, and there was an unyouthful sag about his shoulders. He wore long, wrinkled white linen breeches, a limp blue shirt, the collar of which was open at the throat, and rather scuffed tan shoes. (4-5)

Excerpt #85:
He remembered entering the house, and stumbling through an odd chamber of a hall where the walls were alive with the tossing shadows of candleflames; and Miss Amy, her finger pressed against her lips, leading him with robber stealth up a curving, carpeted stairway and along a second corridor to the door of this room; all a sleep-walker’s pattern of jigsaw incidents, and so, as Miss Amy stood by the bureau regarding the bluejay on is new perch, it was more or less the same as seeing her for the first time.

Excerpt #86:
But Joel had talked, and in talking eased away his worries, and Zoo told tales, tall funny sad, and now and again their voices had met and made a song, a summer kitchen ballad.

Excerpt #87:
“There’s lots you don’t know. All kinds of strange things…mostly they happened before we were born: that makes them seem to me so much more real.”
Before birth; yes, what time was it then? A time like now, and when they were dead, it would be still like now: these trees, that sky, this earth, those acorn seeds, sun and wind, all the same, while they, with dust-turned hearts, change only. Now at thirteen Joel was nearer a knowledge of death than in any year to come: a flower was blooming inside him, and soon, when all tight leaves unfurled, when the noon of youth burned whitest, he would turn and look, as others had, for the opening of another door.

Excerpt #88: Joel and Idabel, a girl he has met, though I would not call her his friend, are going to bathe in the river because that is what Idabel is accustomed to do.
Joel looked shyly at the designated place. “But you’re a girl.”
With an exceedingly contemptuous expression, Idabel drew up to her full height. “Son,” she said, and spit between her fingers, “what you’ve got in your britches is no news to me, and no concern of mine: hell, I’ve fooled around with nobody but boys since first grade> I never think like I’m a girl; you’ve got to remember that, or we can’t never be friends.” For all its bravado, she made this declaration with a special and compelling innocence; and when she knocked one fist against the other, as, frowning, she did now, and said: “I want so much to be a boy: I would be a sailor, I would…” the quality of her futility was touching.
Joel stood up and began to unbutton his shirt.
He lay there on a bed of cold pebbles, the cool water washing, rippling over him; he wished he were a leaf, like the current-carried leaves riding past: leaf-boy, he would float lightly away, float and fade into a river, an ocean, the world’s great flood. Holding his nose, he put his head underwater: he was six years old, and his penny-colored eyes were round with terror; Holy Ghost, the preacher said, pressing him down into baptism water; he screamed, and his mother, watching from a front pew, rushed forward, took him in her arms, held him, whispered softly: my darling, my darling. He lifted his face from the great stillness, and, as Idabel splashed a playful wave, seven years vanished in an instant.
“You look like a plucked chicken,” said Idabel. “So skinny and white.”
Joel’s shoulders contracted self-consciously. Despite Idabel’s quite genuine lack of interest in his nakedness, he could not make so casual an adjustment to the situation as she seemed to expect.
Idabel said: “hold still, now, and I’ll shampoo your hair.” Her own was a maze of lather-curls like cake icing. Without clothes, her figure was, if anything, more boyish: She seemed mostly legs, like a crane, or a walker on modified stilts, and freckles, dappling her rather delicate shoulders, gave her a curiously wistful look. But already her breast had commenced to swell, and there was about her hips a mild suggestion of approaching width. Joel, having conceived of Idabel as gloomy, and cantankerous, was surprised at how funny and gay she could be… (131-133)

Excerpt #89:
Smiling, smoothing the back of his hair, he put out the cigarette, and picked up his brush. “Inasmuch as I was born dead, how ironic that I should die at all; yes, born dead, literally: the midwife was perverse enough to slap me into life. Or did she?” He looked at Joel in an amused way. “Answer me: did she?”
“Did she what?” said Joel, for, as usual, he did not understand: Randolph seemed always to be carrying on in an unfathomable vocabulary secret dialogues with someone unseen. “Randolph,” he said, “please don’t be mad with me: it’s only that you say things in such a funny way.”
“Never mind,” said Randolph, “all difficult music must be heard more than once. And if what I tell you now sounds senseless, it will in retrospect seem far too clear; and when this happens, when those flowers in your eyes wither, irrecoverable as they are, why, though no tears helped dissolve my own cocoon, I shall weep a little for you.” (139)

Excerpt #90:
“They can romanticize us so, mirrors, and that is their secret: what a subtle torture it would be to destroy all the mirrors in the world: where then could we look for reassurance of our identities? I tell you, my dear, Narcissus was no egotist…he was merely another one of us who, in our unshatterable isolation, recognized, on seeing his reflection, the one beautiful comrade, the only inseparable love…poor Narcissus, possibly the only human who was ever honest at this point. (140)

Excerpt #91:
And there was this other thing: we very seldom talked; I can never remember having with Dolores a sustained conversation; there was always between us something muted, hushed; still our silence was not of a secret kind, for in itself it communicated that wonderful peace those who understand each other very well sometimes achieve…yet neither knew the other truly, for at that time we did not really know ourselves. (143)

Excerpt #92:
“…for one couldn’t ignore the not very discreet interplay between Dolores and the young Mexican: they were lovers, even slow-witted Amy could’ve perceived this, and I was not surprised: Pepe was so extraordinary: his face was alive, yet dreamlike, brutal, yet boyish, foreign but familiar (as something from childhood is familiar), both shy and aggressive, both sleeping and awake. (146)

Excerpt #93:
“And Dolores continued with Pepe in her queer compulsive way, not really interested one way or another, not caring whether he stayed or went; like some brainless plant, she lived (existed) beyond her own control in that reckless book of dreams. She could not help me. What we most want is only to be held…and told…that everything (everything is a funny thing, is baby milk and Papa’s eyes, is roaring logs on a cold morning, is hoot-owls and the boy who makes you cry after school, is Mama’s long hair, is being afraid and twisted faces on the bedroom wall)…everything is going to be all right. (148)

Excerpt #94:
“All right, listen: late that afternoon when I woke up rain was at the window and on the roof: a kind of silence, if I may say, was walking through the house, and, like most silence, it was not silent at all: it rapped on doors, echoed in the clocks,creaked on the stairs, leaned forward to peer into my face and explode. Below a radio talked and sang, yet I knew no one heard it: she was gone, and Pepe with her.” (151)

Excerpt #95:
Moss cushioned their footsteps as they moved through the leafy thickness, and came to pause at the edge of an opening: two Negroes, caught in a filmy skein of moon and fern, lay unclothed and enfolded, the man’s caramel-colored body braceleted with his darker lover’s arms, legs, his lips nuzzling her nipples: oo-we, oo-we, sweet Simon, she sighed, love shivering her voice, love rolling through her like thunder; easy, Simon, sweet Simon, easy honey, she crooned, and tensed then, her arms lifting as if to embrace the moon; her lover sank across her, and there together, limbs akimbo, they made on the bloom of moss a black fallen star. Idabel retreated with splashful, rowdy haste, and Joel, trying to keep up, went “shh! shh,” thinking how wrong to frighten the lovers, and wishing, too, that she’d waited longer, for watching them it had been as if his heart were beating all over his body, and all undefined whisperings had gathered into one yearning roar: he knew now, and it was not a giggle or a sudden white-hot word; only two people with each other in withness, and it was as though a tide had receded leaving him dry on a beach white as bone, and it was good at last to have come from so grey so cold a sea. (188)

Excerpt #96:
“…I cry sometimes to think little boys must grow tall.” Her voice, while making this memoir, had stiffened solemnly, and her hands folded themselves quietly in her lap. Idabel waved, shouted, but wind carried her words another way, and sadly Miss Wisteria said: “Poor child, is it hat she believes she is a freak, too?” She placed her hand on his thigh, and then ,as though she had no control over them whatsoever,r her fingers crept up inside his legs: she stared at the hand with shocked intensity but seemed unable to remove it, and Joel, disturbed but knowing now he wanted never to hurt anyone, not Miss Wisteria, nor Idabel, nor the little girl with the corncob doll, wished so much he could say: it doesn’t matter, I love you, I love your hand. The world was a frightening place, yes, he knew: unlasting, what could be forever? or only what it seemed? rock corrodes, rivers freeze, fruit rots; stabbed, blood of black and white bleeds alike; trained parrots tell more truth than most, and who is lonelier: the hawk or the worm? every flowering heart shrivels dry and pitted as the herb from which it bloomed, and while the old man grows spinsterish, his wife assumes a mustache, moment to moment, changing, changing, like the cars on the ferris-wheel. Grass and love are always greener; but remember Little Three Eyes? show her love and apples ripen gold, love vanquishes the Snow Queen, its presence finds the name, be it Rumpelstiltskin or merely Joel Knox: that is constant. (195-196)

Excerpt #97:
Another day, and though the air was mild, he built a fire by which they toasted marshmallows and sipped tea from cups two hundred years old. (209)

-Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote