Sunday, November 04, 2007


This is the kind of crazy idea I have and then get behind. Hear me out.

I'm nosing around in a book called 50 Great Short Stories, edited by Milton Crane. I said to Julie that if I ever got around to writing a collection of short stories, the collection would be entitled 12 Middling Short Stories, With One or Two Great Ones Lurking About.
But the weirdest thing has happened. The more stories I read in this book, the more I realize they're all great. Imagine.
Anyway, there's a story by Henry James in it, "Brooksmith." Henry James is an author I've never read much, mostly because of the kind of people who seem to be enamored by his works. My friend Flo is an exception, and because of him have I read "Brooksmith," which, of course, is great.
I noticed, though, that James embraces adjectives and adverbs and in general writes in the kind of way that "How To Get Your Book Out Of the Slushpile and Into Print" warn against.
So I had this idea of collecting his adjectives and adverbs and writing them up as a poem. The problem is that the story is a bit long and that readers might lose interest. An an exercise, it is endlessly fascinating, especially because the one short paragraphs without any adjectives or adverbs whatsoever is the one in which a decisive crisis occurs.
Here's a select snippet of the opening pages, condensed:

Jamesian, Henrily

Scattered late certain esoteric enough such most agreeable most attaching retired good deal confined delighted any most intimate prime foreign delightful signal horrid principal,
Not too grumpily simply

Overwhelmed particular happy Londonish grey opposite white high exact particular pruned tendered human,
Perpetually merely essentially vividly intensely well largely

Many famous finest social English smiling suggestive sinuous affectionate pious sallow smoked large last distinguished dear apt some physical many social slow only own pleasantest compact charmed casual fine old last-century remarkable best rich somewhat superannuated,
Doubtless usually insidiously slightly certainly peculiarly really finally notoriously

Some opposed present such good happy obvious feminine mere hidden occult other very natural fine,
Perfectly supremely singularly already

Many few right right wrong general single convenient all convenient happy ready willing foreordained unheard of fundamental,
Never never always really always never fast never quickly

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