Ack! How could I write that last post and forget to mention my hero, Karen Cushman, who can take words by the scruffs of their necks and shake them into sensibility? And, good news for all Karen Cushman fans: she has finally, finally launched a website! I for one am chomping at the bit for spring, which will mark the launch of the latest Cushman creation. Word is that it is set in Elizabethan times. Can’t wait.
Speaking of words (and aren’t we always?), today’s Spoken Word aural bon-bon was Virginia Woolf. I had to replay the recording three times to catch everything she said but here is my favorite tidbit: “Our business [as writers] is to see what we can do with the old English language as it is. . .how we combine old words in new orders so they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth.”
This is difficult, says Woolf, because “words are full of echoes and memories. They’ve been out and about on people’s lips for centuries.” Absolutely. That’s the wonder and the difficulty of it all!
Here are some delish combinations I’ve encountered:
“The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up.” (the first line of Laurie Hals Anderson’s Chains)
“Our mother was a kindly schoolmarm and taught us to speak proper, so I can’t tell you exactly what I think of Squinton Leach, but it aproximates what I think of a rabid skunk, or scabs on my backside, or a bad toothache.” (from The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick, spring 2009)
“12th Day of September: I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say.” (the first line of Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman)
“Trees are the keepers of stories.” (from The Underneath, by Kathi Appelt)
“Lana Nicarbith hummed of the number eleven.” (opening line of The Humming of Numbers, by Joni Sensel)
Have you found any particularly lovely/evocative/astonishing/moving/mind-expanding combinations of words lately? Share!