Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Oscar Held on

It's all very well to hold a novel's hero or heroine up to your nose and see if you catch a whiff of yourself. "Identifying" is what you're supposed to do, the ladder down which you're supposed to crawl into all those cold pools of words. But what if you discover yourself in some minor yet redolent character? A Falstaff or a Lucy Steele or, God help you, an Eeyore? Or in chapter 18:

"He did not like it when Mrs. Stratton talked, as she often did, about 'the land around the subject...' When she spoke like this she would -she was doing it now- begin to pace. Oscar saw this land in his mind's eye -it was full of swamps and ditches. There were areas of tall grass and thick mist...Mrs. Stratton galloped across the 'land around.' She plunged into ditches and trotted proudly across bright green valleys She set up her question, then knocked it down -she argued that her own question was incorrect. She set a light to it and watched it burn."


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