Monday, October 12, 2015

Agenda 21: Short, Silly, Dull

Agenda 21, pp. 176-182

Another chapter, another trip into mother's sleeping bag of holding. This time, it's going to pay off in dividends, dispensing with three objects. First up:

A strange little book. Red leather, cracked with age, its cover lettered in faded gold. The New Testament.

Actually, it's just the Gospels, so I guess this is meant to be one of those pocket editions. This comes as a total mystery to Emmeline, whose mother apparently never told her about that Old Time Religion. What kind of teacher was she, anyway?

The next object is a switchblade. No, seriously:

It was a strange object, obling in shape, only about three inches long, and made of metal. I pushed a small button on one side and a blade snapped out.

Perhaps this is a holdover from mom's younger days in the mean streets of central Kansas. Elkhorn's a tough town, let me tell you.

The last object out is a box of matches, which isn't interesting enough for me to describe.

Actually, nothing in this chapter seems to be worth describing, at least from the author's perspective. It feels odd to say this, given how vocal I've been in opposition to the extremely verbose descriptive passages that define modern novels, but here goes: Parke needs to use more than one word to describe some of these things. Remember that joke I made about the coin seeming like an egg because the same two words were used to describe both? Well, here's how our protagonist describes the knife:

Hard and cold.

Then she cuts herself with the knife:

...slick, wet, red.

And the matchbox?

...small, square, smooth.

This is beginning to annoy me. I would be willing to play this off as an artistic choice were it not for the fact that the author drops it when describing certain things, such as how hot the pool boy David looks in a t-shirt.

It occurs to me that there was a Chekhov's Knife of sorts floating around in The Fabulist. Now what did that look like?

It was actually a fine piece - lacquered grip, animal horn hand guard, ornate symbols etched into the steel of the blade. Once upon a time, such a knife would have fetched a handsome price, but in the new world it was little more than a shard of metal with a keen edge, no better or worse than any blade of similar size.

Incidentally, here's the real-life piece that inspired that description:

In retrospect, I don't know why I bothered with that when "long and sharp" is sufficient.

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