3.14.2012

a word from Mrs. Hawkins


Apparently April 23-29 is Muriel Spark Reading Week.  (Well, according to this blog, anyway.)  And, coincidentally, I'd been tipped off to Ms. Spark by the so-far-always-spot-on recommendations of law of sympathy -- from whom I also stole the title of this blog post.


 Her book A Far Cry From Kensington is a sneaky read.  The book has a somewhat opaque, desultory quality to it.  Even though I couldn't put it down, at times I wondered why I was reading it.  It's certainly a book that marches to the beat of its own drummer.  But, like I said, it's sneaky.  Somewhere along the way you realize that you're quite enamored with its central character, Mrs. Hawkins, if not several of the supporting cast.  You suddenly realize everything is there for a reason, and that Ms. Sparks has concocted a tantalizing puzzle of a book.   And even putting that aside, so much of what Mrs. Hawkins has to say is just a pleasure.

For my own purposes, I will include a word from Mrs. Hawkins on the secret to writing a novel:


 'You are writing a letter to a friend,' was the sort of thing I used to say.  'And this is a dear and close friend, real -- or better -- invented in your mind like a fixation.  Write privately, not publicly;  without fear or timidity, right to the end of the letter, as if it was never going to be published, so that your true friend will read it over and over, and then want more enchanting letters from you.  Now, you are not writing about the relationship between your friend and yourself;  you take that for granted.  You are only confiding an experience that you think only he will enjoy reading.  What you have to say will come out more spontaneously and honestly than if you are thinking of numerous readers.  Before starting the letter rehearse in your mind what you are going to tell;  something interesting, your story.  But don't rehearse too much, the story will develop as you go along, especially if you write to a special friend, man or woman, to make them smile or laugh or cry, or anything you like so long as you know it will interest.  Remember not to think of the reading public, it will put you off.' 


ps. Good advice, a great character, and a pleasure of a novel.  Wonderful. 

1 comment:

Jen said...

I'm so glad you liked it! I had a similar "what is this?" / "it's wonderful." reading experience.