Friday, May 11, 2007

The Pleasure of Holding a Book

As soon as I knew that Swords of Talera was on Amazon, Lana and I ordered a copy to see how the process would work. We got it late Wednesday evening, which seemed very fast to me, especially since other folks have told me that theirs is not going to be delivered until after mid-month. I imagine, though, that they had some printed and the first orders went out from those.

I was as excited as a kid to actually hold the book in my hand, and it looks very nice up close. The cover is great and the print and typesetting is dark and readable. The book is well put together and I’m very happy for that. Right now I have one signing set in Covington for July 31st, but I’ll be posting more on this as it gets closer. This was set up for me by the incomparable Lana Jackman, who is much better than the incomparable Dejah Thoris that John Carter fell in love with on Barsoom. I’ll probably have another signing in Arkansas when I go home to visit my family this summer.

Here’s a little bit of information from David Morrell’s writing book that I thought was interesting. He points out that Hemingway used more adjectives and adverbs than people often think but that he used them differently. Here’s the first sentence of A Farewell to Arms.

“In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels.”

We’ve got five adjectives and an adverb here, but the adjectives seem almost more like nouns because they stand alone, “dry and white in the sun” rather than directly modifying the nouns they are directed at, “pebbles and boulders.” If we rewrote it in a more standard fashion we’d have something like:

In the river bed there were dry, white pebbles and boulders, and the clear, blue water moved swiftly in the channel.

I thought this was an interesting observation, and one that had not really occurred to me. Worth considering.

13 comments:

the walking man said...

English class, the non writing parts, for me were about as troublesome as algebra, what the hell is diagramming sentences all about and what is an adverb anyway? I suppose I use 'em but if I do I couldn't point it out.

That was a pretty long sentence for Hemingway, he was most likely in an early Bukowski state of mind when he wrote it.

peace and don't brand new books smell great, like getting inside a new high end car before the first fart or cigarette is let loose in it.

TWM

Shauna Roberts said...

I agree with your comments on the adjectives acting as nouns and suggest that the are also taking on the role of verbs.

The only verbs in the sentence are "were" and "was." Yet despite the lack of action verbs, the sentence feels as if things are happening.

By setting the modifiers free and letting them stand on their own--"clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels"--Hemingway creates a sense of motion, at least to my ear.

Sphinx Ink said...

Charles, despite Amazon's projected arrival date of May 14-17 for your book, I actually received my copy on Wednesday, having ordered it on Sunday. So that was pretty good. It looks great and I'm anticipating the pleasure of reading it.

Re the Hemingway example--as TWM points out, it's a pretty long sentence for Papa H., yet even if one were to break it into 2 parts, the description would still carry more weight and impact than the altered and more pedestrian version with the adjectives and adverbs closer to the words they modify. That's why Hemingway's prose style has been so admired.

cs harris said...

Our copy arrived on Wednesday, as well. And it does look great!

Susan Miller said...

Yes, yes, I felt the same way when I got it. Well...maybe not the same way as you and Lana. BUT a guy in my office brought it to my desk and I screamed, "OH, MY BOOK!" Then I tore it open and thought to myself, "I know this guy."

On a heavier note, I just made it through a really bad storm and am wondering still about Bryce and now I kinda have a liking for our boy, Jask. Taking it slow and treasuring the beauty of it.

Hemingway, Schemingway...but that is interesting.

etain_lavena said...

Hello Mr Charles...great observation and is it your book that is out...way kewl...when I actually earn a pay check I will buy me one of it then...whoohoo...hope your still good:0)
enjoy the weekend:)

Michelle's Spell said...

Charles,

Nothing like having the book in hand! That's so cool -- the whole publication process is such a happy one, made sweeter by all the hard work that went before it.

Erik Donald France said...

That's so cool. Major congrats on the hard copy! And good stuff on Hemingway.

Lucas Pederson said...

I can't think of any other happiness a writer has as he/she holds their very own book in their hands. To be able to read the name on that polished cover, and know that it is really yours, you wrote the thing, by God! You wrote a book and it's out for the entire world to read, and people are buying it!!
One day I hope to feel that happiness, one day...
Way be Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks, everyone. Yes, the Hemingway sentence is pretty cool, but long for him. It was educational to see how powerful it made it just to alter the presentation of the adjectives.

Etain, glad to see you are well.

Susan, I grew to like Jask pretty well myself.

Cheri said...

I never noticed that about Hemingway. Now I'm going to have to re-read some of my anthology to see just what other little quirks he had.


And again, congrats on the book!

Bernita said...

Fondle time.

Danny Tagalog said...

Yeah, I'll check this out further - am using A Day's Wait soon.