The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Up the River Without an Adjective

By Craig T'rlson

I've been a bit under the weather the last few days - hence, the lateness of my post - but the nice thing about being sick is having a good reason to stay in bed and read. My latest bedside read is the classic Huck Finn by Mark Twain. I read it years ago, but as I suspected, returning to it a few decades later would be a hole 'nother 'sperience. If you have read it lately, you know why I phrase it that way and how the pages of southern dialect get deeps inside of ya (you? ya'll?)

Reading it as a teen, I probably skipped a lot of the words. I never figured out what "gwyne" actually meant - nor did I really care. I just jumped on the raft with Jim and Huck and hung on. It was a helluva ride then and now – 'specially as I got so immersed in the language I started squeezing the word s'pose into my conversation. On the phone with client I actually said "I reckon". He probably thought I was gwyne asked to be paid in punkins.

Well, never mind all that, I just can't seem to stop thinking in those broken sentences and 'postrophies... thet there is the problem.

Laying in bed, nursing a flu, it got worst as I rode down the river and met the king and the duke and their conflagrations and hi-talking ways. I swear it was the fever chawing when my wife came in the room and I asked her thet if she warn't busy, cud she rustle up some kinda truck for me to take repast. (She immediately took my temperature and wrestled Twain's book from my sweaty grasp).

She knew it was fer the best. When I read Frankenstein I had the most gorgeous long sentences and exquisite elocution. Reading Carver, I shot clipped sentences at her and would never describe a damn thing - and if I ever got ahold of a James Ellroy, well she just stayed the F*** out of my F***ing way.

This one time I'd try to explain to her, between chapters of Vonnegut, that how, listen, the whole world is going to hell in a basket. She looked up from her Hemingway and said, "It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.”

I sat up and bed and asked, "That happens to you, too? You start thinking like the book you're reading?" She smiled and flicked off the light.
I leaned over and whispered, "We could have had such a damned good time together.”
"Yes," she said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Damn literature.


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I love this! I never read Huck Finn but I can imagine the language. And, yes, I get into the worlds I read about and become one of the characters for a while. It's why we read, isn't it? Nice to have a sick day as an excuse to do more of it.

Sun Oct 01, 10:02:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Anne C. said...


Sun Oct 01, 11:29:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

This is why I love books! They take over and change me.

Mon Oct 02, 07:57:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Excellent post, Craig! I'm into an Atwood right now...if only I could start writing like her. :)

Mon Oct 02, 09:31:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Patricia said...

nicely done Craig I hope you're feeling better...funny post xo

Mon Oct 02, 07:54:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

See my post. What I'm reading always influences me. The need to follow is inherent in us. I think that's why having my news "interpreted" and "spun" scares me so much.

Wed Oct 04, 04:56:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

This is great, Craig 'Trlson' ;) I'm still laughing.

Wed Oct 04, 03:43:00 pm GMT-4  

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