Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vivid writing....

Yesterday I was reading a book of Truman Capote short stories in the car. The car was parked at the time. The writing was extremely vivid. So vivid that after reading a scene where the character drinks whiskey, I was flicking over the page and in the action of flicking the page remembered where I was, and I thought to myself
"I shouldn't have had that whiskey just now, as I am soon going to have to drive, seeing as I am in a car and all"
Then I said to myself
"You crazy fool! You weren't drinking whiskey! You were reading about drinking whiskey!!"
and at that I was able to relax again, unclench my fist from the steering wheel and continue to read... but I couldn't continue to read, of course, I had to flick back to the whiskey drinking section and try to unlock the secret of the vividness, which I couldn't.
It reminded me of one other instance where the writing was so vivid I felt like I really had lived through it... the other time was with a Haruki Murakami book where I was reading a section concerning a mystic cat torturer, later that day I started telling someone about this awful vivid nightmare I had had that day. Again I'm not sure why this piece of writing had so transported me... I'm sure I've had more such experiences than that, but maybe they're so ingrained that I just can't remember them as false memories and they have somehow snuck into my library of real ones... (I sure had fun with that Big Friendly Giant as a kid though...)

Anyone have any similar experiences to report?

10 comments:

Lorenzo said...

A great description of this eerie effect, Niamh. The road police are going to start doing breathalyzer tests on our books and reading materials after reading this.

chiccoreal said...

A novel can tend to do that; get into the head and leave a mess or a lovely present! Depending what it is we choose to read. The fascination with all things horrible is the human's morbid fascination with the macabre. Why this fascination? People want to know all that is out there, because they want to know the extent to which one has to deal with any situation; good or bad. In some novels; "In Cold Blood" by Trueman Capote for example, the stark realism is based in reality; an actual (pardon the pun) True Detective novel. It is human nature to want to delve into the depths of emotions, open wide the floodgate of various kinds of situations; various psychologies, etc. I believe our dreams help us to deal with potential realities. Reading us for whatever could possibly come our way; terrifying or evoking much euphoria. Dreams ready our ability to deal with reality. This is my opinion, anyway. So don't let it worry you that you have these stories stick in your craw; there is something you must deal with; and remember; it was you who wanted to read the book, opened the pages and read the book! Imagined whiskey or not!

Totalfeckineejit said...

On the other paw maybe you're just a looper. :)

Totalfeckineejit said...

Or, maybe you HAD just been drinking whiskey and that is why the passage in the book seemed so real read through your alcoholic haze. And then mistakenly thinking you hadn't been drinking you get into the car and drive straight into the slippery pole whose warning sign has been obscured by the burgeoning summer- rich and verdant verge.

Niamh B said...

Thanks Lorenzo, it mightn't be a bad idea.
Thanks Chiccoreal - some interesting ideas there, maybe dreams are our way of pushing the envelope alright, they can be pretty mad. I had a mad one last night myself - not scary, just mad. It doesn't worry me at all that these pieces of writing seem so real - merely actually fascinates me and makes me want to know how to do it to others, because it really is quite a trick!
TFE - BARKING Perhaps... But you're right about one thing, once again the slippy pole's warning has been obsured by summer growth and it'll be winter again before we get to see how slippy it is, by which time it probably will be slippy again, so it's like a magic self modulating road sign - AGAIN with the magic!! (I'm pretty sure I wasn't actually drinking whiskey)

Words A Day said...

i just read The Outlander and it had a similar effect, nothing mattered only getting food after I'd put down the book, wanted to go out and shoot me some vermin, then i realised i wasnt a feral woman on the brink of starvation, just a plump one in her semi-detached, i was so dissappointed...

Titus said...

I cannot comment intelligently because I have been poorly all day.
However, whilst dozing fitfully in a very hot bedroom I had a nightmare about my husband cleaning the house, which involved him spraying "Flash - Lemon" on all the carpets.
And whenever I watch a Die Hard film I want to be Bruce Willis. A lot.

Niamh B said...

Words a day - that reminds me of the bit in the road with the apples... also a spookily vivid one.
Titus, sorry you're feeling unwell :-( when I watch die hard - I usually just want Bruce Willis! though I haven't seen it for years, so I could be mixing it up with lethal weapon. Why would flash lemon be a bad thing? we don't have carpets... luckily.

Anil P said...

He had an unique gift in the way he srafted his stories. Very vivid.

Niamh B said...

Thanks Anil, and thanks for visiting!