Author Topic: Stonking passages of writing  (Read 1254 times)

Twit 2

  • In the boneyard of dreams
Stonking passages of writing
« on: September 01, 2018, 06:40:14 PM »
The Peregrine by JA Baker:

Suddenly the kingfisher appeared in front of me, hovered, and flew silently back. In the green sunlight dappled on the water it gleamed like a luminious-sharded rain beetle. It had a glowworm radiance, as though it were underwater and sheathed in a bubble of silver air. It clouded the sun’s reflection with a streaming haze of emerald blue. Now it is slowly dying in the blind glare of the snow.  Soon it will be sepulchred in the ice it cannot pierce, crushed into frozen light below the dark cave where it was born. A fungus of whiteness grows upon the eye, and spreads along the nerves like pain.

Phoenix Lazarus

  • Why bother writing stuff below your avatar?
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2018, 08:55:43 PM »
For me, a sequence in William Golding's Lord of the Flies.  The section in question starts with loner and daydreamer Simon, one afternoon, in the little clearing, with the rotting pig's head.  Suffering an epileptic turn, he hallucinates that the pig's head is talking to him, first as a scolding schoolteacher, then as a threatening fellow-child.  He passes out, then wakes up and finds the rotting corpse of the man who parachuted out of the shot-down plane, still attached to the parachute, which, caught by the wind, makes the figure sudden surge upward, as if alive.  He runs down to the beach tell the other children that he knows what the 'beast' that some younger children claimed to have seen was.  By this time night has fallen and the other children, who have hyped themselves up into a frenzy, as darkness fell that night, mistake him for the beast and jump upon and batter and claw him to death.  After they disperse, a massive storm erupts, and then clears.  As it does so, Simon's body is gently swept out to sea by the ebbing water.  That whole sequence is about the most utterly awesome piece of fictional prose I have ever read.

Twit 2

  • In the boneyard of dreams
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2018, 01:23:20 AM »
Nice! Is it available online somewhere to paste into this thread? I typed my one up but yours sounds a bit longer!


  • Throwing two dogs at a goblin
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2018, 02:47:40 AM »
That’s something I’ve got to read

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2018, 02:58:44 AM »
Went and dug it up. God bless the internet.

Sorry for all the line-breaks; it was a PDF and I can't be arsed deleting them all. Putting in paragraph breaks was pain enough already.


A View to a Death

Over the island the build-up of clouds continued. A steady current of heated air rose all
day from the mountain and was thrust to ten thousand feet; revolving masses of gas piled up
the static until the air was ready to explode. By early evening the sun had gone and a brassy
glare had taken the place of clear daylight. Even the air that pushed in from the sea was hot
and held no refreshment. Colors drained from water and trees and pink surfaces of rock, and
the white and brown clouds brooded. Nothing prospered but the flies who blackened their
lord and made the spilt guts look like a heap of glistening coal. Even when the vessel broke in
Simon's nose and the blood gushed out they left him alone, preferring the pig's high flavor.

With the running of the blood Simon's fit passed into the weariness of sleep. He lay in
the mat of creepers while the evening advanced and the cannon continued to play. At last he
woke and saw dimly the dark earth close by his cheek. Still he did not move but lay there, his
face sideways on the earth, his eyes looking dully before him. Then he turned over, drew his
feet under him and laid hold of the creepers to pull himself up. When the creepers shook the
flies exploded from the guts with a vicious note and clamped back on again. Simon got to his
feet. The light was unearthly. The Lord of the Flies hung on his stick like a black ball.

Simon spoke aloud to the clearing.

"What else is there to do?"

Nothing replied. Simon turned away from the open space and crawled through the
creepers till he was in the dusk of the forest. He walked drearily between the trunks, his face
empty of expression, and the blood was dry round his mouth and chin. Only sometimes as he
lifted the ropes of creeper aside and chose his direction from the trend of the land, he
mouthed words that did not reach the air.

Presently the creepers festooned the trees less frequently and there was a scatter of
pearly light from the sky down through the trees. This was the backbone of the island, the
slightly higher land that lay beneath the mountain where the forest was no longer deep jungle.
Here there were wide spaces interspersed with thickets and huge trees and the trend of the
ground led him up as the forest opened. He pushed on, staggering sometimes with his
weariness but never stopping. The usual brightness was gone from his eyes and he walked with
a sort of glum determination like an old man.

A buffet of wind made him stagger and he saw that he was out in the open, on rock,
under a brassy sky. He found his legs were weak and his tongue gave him pain all the time.
When the wind reached the mountain-top he could see something happen, a flicker of blue
stuff against brown clouds. He pushed himself forward and the wind came again, stronger now,
cuffing the forest heads till they ducked and roared. Simon saw a humped thing suddenly sit up
on the top and look down at him. He hid his face, and toiled on.

The flies had found the figure too. The life-like movement would scare them off for a
moment so that they made a dark cloud round the head. Then as the blue material of the
parachute collapsed the corpulent figure would bow forward, sighing, and the flies settle once

Simon felt his knees smack the rock. He crawled forward and soon he understood. The
tangle of lines showed him the mechanics of this parody; he examined the white nasal bones,
the teeth, the colors of corruption. He saw how pitilessly the layers of rubber and canvas held
together the poor body that should be rotting away. Then the wind blew again and the figure
lifted, bowed, and breathed foully at him. Simon knelt on all fours and was sick till his stomach
was empty. Then he took the lines in his hands; he freed them from the rocks and the figure
from the wind's indignity.

At last he turned away and looked down at the beaches. The fire by the platform
appeared to be out, or at least making no smoke. Further along the beach, beyond the little
river and near a great slab of rock, a thin trickle of smoke was climbing into the sky. Simon,
forgetful of the flies, shaded his eyes with both hands and peered at the smoke. Even at that
distance it was possible to see that most of the boys--perhaps all of the boys--were there. So
they had shifted camp then, away from the beast. As Simon thought this, he turned to the
poor broken thing that sat stinking by his side. The beast was harmless and horrible; and the
news must reach the others as soon as possible. He started down the mountain and his legs
gave beneath him. Even with great care the best he could do was a stagger.

"Bathing," said Ralph, "that's the only thing to do." Piggy was inspecting the loomingsky
through his glass. "I don't like them clouds. Remember how it rained just after we landed?"

"Going to rain again."

Ralph dived into the pool. A couple of littluns were playing at the edge, trying to
extract comfort from a wetness warmer than blood. Piggy took off his glasses, stepped primly
into the water and then put them on again. Ralph came to the surface and squirted a jet of
water at him.

"Mind my specs," said Piggy. "If I get water on the glass I got to get out and clean 'em."

Ralph squirted again and missed. He laughed at Piggy, expecting him to retire meekly
as usual and in pained silence. Instead, Piggy beat the water with his hands.

"Stop it!" he shouted. "D'you hear?"

Furiously he drove the water into Ralph's face.

"All right, all right," said Ralph. "Keep your hair on."

Piggy stopped beating the water.

"I got a pain in my head. I wish the air was cooler."

"I wish the rain would come."

"I wish we could go home."

Piggy lay back against the sloping sand side of the pool. His stomach protruded and the
water dried on it. Ralph squinted up at the sky. One could guess at the movement of the sun
by the progress of a light patch among the clouds. He knelt in the water and looked round.

"Where's everybody?"

Piggy sat up.

"P'raps they're lying in the shelter."

"Where's Samneric?"

"And Bill?"

Piggy pointed beyond the platform.

"That's where they've gone. Jack's party."

"Let them go," said Ralph, uneasily, "I don't care."

"Just for some meat--"

"And for hunting," said Ralph, wisely, "and for pretending to be a tribe, and putting on

Piggy stirred the sand under water and did not look at Ralph.

"P'raps we ought to go too."

Ralph looked at him quickly and Piggy blushed.

"I mean--to make sure nothing happens."

Ralph squirted water again.

Long before Ralph and Piggy came up with Jack's lot, they could hear the party. There
was a stretch of grass in a place where the palms left a wide band of turf between the forest
and the shore. Just one step down from the edge of the turf was the white, blown sand of
above high water, warm, dry, trodden. Below that again was a rock that stretched away toward
the lagoon. Beyond was a short stretch of sand and then the edge of the water. A fire burned
on the rock and fat dripped from the roasting pigmeat into the invisible flames. All the boys of
the island, except Piggy, Ralph, Simon, and the two tending the pig, were grouped on the turf.
They were laughing, singing, lying, squatting, or standing on the grass, holding food in their
hands. But to judge by the greasy faces, the meat eating was almost done; and some held
coconut shells in their hands and were drinking from them. Before the party had started a
great log had been dragged into the center of the lawn and Jack, painted and garlanded, sat
there like an idol. There were piles of meat on green leaves near him, and fruit, and coconut
shells full of drink.

Piggy and Ralph came to the edge of the grassy platform; and the boys, as they noticed
them, fell silent one by one till only the boy next to Jack was talking. Then the silence
intruded even there and Jack turned where he sat. For a time he looked at them and the
crackle of the fire was the loudest noise over the droning of the reef. Ralph looked away; and
Sam, thinking that Ralph had turned to him accusingly, put down his gnawed bone with a
nervous giggle. Ralph took an uncertain step, pointed to a palm tree, and whispered something
inaudible to Piggy; and they both giggled like Sam. Lifting his feet high out of the sand, Ralph
started to stroll past. Piggy tried to whistle.

At this moment the boys who were cooking at the fire suddenly hauled off a great
chunk of meat and ran with it toward the grass. They bumped Piggy, who was burnt, and
yelled and danced. Immediately, Ralph and the crowd of boys were united and relieved by a
storm of laughter. Piggy once more was the center of social derision so that everyone felt
cheerful and normal.

Jack stood up and waved his spear.

"Take them some meat."

The boys with the spit gave Ralph and Piggy each a succulent chunk. They took the
gift, dribbling. So they stood and ate beneath a sky of thunderous brass that rang with the

Jack waved his spear again.

"Has everybody eaten as much as they want?"

There was still food left, sizzling on the wooden spits, heaped on the green platters.

Betrayed by his stomach, Piggy threw a picked bone down on the beach and stooped for more.
Jack spoke again, impatiently.

"Has everybody eaten as much as they want?"

His tone conveyed a warning, given out of the pride of ownership, and the boys ate
faster while there was still time. Seeing there was no immediate likelihood of a pause, Jack rose
from the log that was his throne and sauntered to the edge of the grass. He looked down from
behind his paint at Ralph and Piggy. They moved a little farther off over the sand and Ralph
watched the fire as he ate. He noticed, without understanding, how the flames were visible
now against the dull light. Evening was come, not with calm beauty but with the threat of

Jack spoke.

"Give me a drink."

Henry brought him a shell and he drank, watching Piggy and Ralph over the jagged rim.
Power lay in the brown swell of his forearms: authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his
ear like an ape.

"All sit down."

The boys ranged themselves in rows on the grass before him but Ralph and Piggy
stayed a foot lower, standing on the soft sand. Jack ignored them for the moment, turned his
mask down to the seated boys and pointed at them with the spear.

"Who's going to join my tribe?"

Ralph made a sudden movement that became a stumble. Some of the boys turned
toward him.

"I gave you food," said Jack, "and my hunters will protect you from the beast. Who will
join my tribe?"

"I'm chief," said Ralph, "because you chose me. And we were going to keep the fire
going. Now you run after food--"

"You ran yourself!" shouted Jack. "Look at that bone in your hands!"

Ralph went crimson.

"I said you were hunters. That was your job."

Jack ignored him again.

"Who'll join my tribe and have fun?"

"I'm chief," said Ralph tremulously. "And what about the fire? And I've got the conch--

"You haven't got it with you," said Jack, sneering. "You left it behind. See, clever? And
the conch doesn't count at this end of the island--"

All at once the thunder struck. Instead of the dull boom there was a point of impact in
the explosion.

"The conch counts here too," said Ralph, "and all over the island."

"What are you going to do about it then?"

Ralph examined the ranks of boys. There was no help in them and he looked away,
confused and sweating. Piggy whispered.

"The fire--rescue."

"Who'll join my tribe?"

"I will."


"I will."

"I'll blow the conch," said Ralph breathlessly, "and call an assembly."

"We shan't hear it."

Piggy touched Ralph's wrist.

"Come away. There's going to be trouble. And we've had our meat."

There was a blink of bright light beyond the forest and the thunder exploded again so
that a littlun started to whine. Big drops of rain fell among them making individual sounds
when they struck.

"Going to be a storm," said Ralph, "and you'll have rain like when we dropped here.
Who's clever now? Where are your shelters? What are you going to do about that?"

The hunters were looking uneasily at the sky, flinching from the stroke of the drops. A
wave of restlessness set the boys swaying and moving aimlessly. The flickering light became
brighter and the blows of the thunder were only just bearable. The littluns began to run about,

Jack leapt on to the sand.

"Do our dance! Come on! Dance!"

He ran stumbling through the thick sand to the open space of rock beyond the fire.
Between the flashes of lightning the air was dark and terrible; and the boys followed him,
clamorously. Roger became the pig, grunting and charging at Jack, who side-stepped. The
hunters took their spears, the cooks took spits, and the rest clubs of firewood. A circling
movement developed and a chant. While Roger mimed the terror of the pig, the littluns ran
and jumped on the outside of the circle. Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found
themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to
touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror and made it governable.

"_Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!_"

The movement became regular while the chant lost its first superficial excitement and
began to beat like a steady pulse. Roger ceased to be a pig and became a hunter, so that the
center of the ring yawned emptily. Some of the littluns started a ring on their own; and the
complementary circles went round and round as though repetition would achieve safety of
itself. There was the throb and stamp of a single organism.

The dark sky was shattered by a blue-white scar. An instant later the noise was on them
like the blow of a gigantic whip. The chant rose a tone in agony.

"_Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!_"

Now out of the terror rose another desire, thick, urgent, blind.

"_Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!_"

Again the blue-white scar jagged above them and the sulphurous explosion beat down.
The littluns screamed and blundered about, fleeing from the edge of the forest, and one of
them broke the ring of biguns in his terror.

"Him! Him!"

The circle became a horseshoe. A thing was crawling out of the forest. It came darkly,
uncertainly. The shrill screaming that rose before the beast was like a pain. The beast
stumbled into the horseshoe.

"_Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!_"

The blue-white scar was constant, the noise unendurable. Simon was crying out
something about a dead man on a hill.

"_Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood! Do him in!_"

The sticks fell and the mouth of the new circle crunched and screamed. The beast was
on its knees in the center, its arms folded over its face. It was crying out against the
abominable noise something about a body on the hill. The beast struggled forward, broke the
ring and fell over the steep edge of the rock to the sand by the water. At once the crowd
surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There
were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws.

Then the clouds opened and let down the rain like a waterfall. The water bounded from
the mountain-top, tore leaves and branches from the trees, poured like a cold shower over the
struggling heap on the sand. Presently the heap broke up and figures staggered away. Only the
beast lay still, a few yards from the sea. Even in the rain they could see how small a beast it
was; and already its blood was staining the sand.

Now a great wind blew the rain sideways, cascading the water from the forest trees. On
the mountain-top the parachute filled and moved; the figure slid, rose to its feet, spun, swayed
down through a vastness of wet air and trod with ungainly feet the tops of the high trees;
falling, still falling, it sank toward the beach and the boys rushed screaming into the darkness.
The parachute took the figure forward, furrowing the lagoon, and bumped it over the reef and
out to sea.

Toward midnight the rain ceased and the clouds drifted away, so that the sky was
scattered once more with the incredible lamps of stars. Then the breeze died too and there
was no noise save the drip and trickle of water that ran out of clefts and spilled down, leaf by
leaf, to the brown earth of the island. The air was cool, moist, and clear; and presently even the
sound of the water was still. The beast lay huddled on the pale beach and the stains spread,
inch by inch.

The edge of the lagoon became a streak of phosphorescence which advanced minutely,
as the great wave of the tide flowed. The clear water mirrored the clear sky and the angular
bright constellations. The line of phosphorescence bulged about the sand grains and little
pebbles; it held them each in a dimple of tension, then suddenly accepted them with an
inaudible syllable and moved on.

Along the shoreward edge of the shallows the advancing clearness was full of strange,
moonbeam-bodied creatures with fiery eyes. Here and there a larger pebble clung to its own
air and was covered with a coat of pearls. The tide swelled in over the rain-pitted sand and
smoothed everything with a layer of silver. Now it touched the first of the stains that seeped
from the broken body and the creatures made a moving patch of light as they gathered at the
edge. The water rose farther and dressed Simon's coarse hair with brightness. The line of his
cheek silvered and the turn of his shoulder became sculptured marble. The strange attendant
creatures, with their fiery eyes and trailing vapors, busied themselves round his head. The body
lifted a fraction of an inch from the sand and a bubble of air escaped from the mouth with a
wet plop. Then it turned gently in the water.

Somewhere over the darkened curve of the world the sun and moon were pulling, and
the film of water on the earth planet was held, bulging slightly on one side while the solid core
turned. The great wave of the tide moved farther along the island and the water lifted. Softly,
surrounded by a fringe of inquisitive bright creatures, itself a silver shape beneath the steadfast
constellations, Simon's dead body moved out toward the open sea.

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2018, 03:11:59 AM »
On a similar "murdered child floating away" tip, the only bit of Stephen King's IT to really affect me on a recent read-through was the description of a little boy's body being washed out of a drain near where the Losers are obliviously playing. I can't find the text, sadly, but the description of his ruined body makes his implied death a lot grislier than the ones that are described in full, graphic detail.

Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2018, 10:14:53 AM »
I've always enjoyed the chillingly ambiguous opening section of Gravity's Rainbow. Is it just a nightmare one of the main characters is having? A jumbled memory? A future prophecy?

A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

It is too late. The Evacuation still proceeds, but it’s all theatre. There are no lights inside the cars. No light anywhere. Above him lift girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But it’s night. He’s afraid of the way the glass will fall–soon–it will be a spectacle: the fall of a crystal palace. But coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light, only great invisible crashing.

Inside the carriage, which is built on several levels, he sits in velveteen darkness, with nothing to smoke, feeling metal nearer and farther rub and connect, steam escaping in puffs, a vibration in the carriage's frame, a poising, an uneasiness, all the others pressed in around, feeble ones, second sheep, all out of luck and time; drunks, old veterans still in shock from ordnance twenty years obsolete, hustlers in city clothes, derelicts, exhausted women with more children than it seems could belong to anyone, stacked about among the rest of the things to be carried out to salvation. Only the nearer faces are visible at all, and at that only as half-silvered images in a view finder, green-stained VIP faces remembered behind bulletproof windows speeding through the city...

They have begun to move. They pass in line, out of the main station, out of downtown, and begin pushing into older and more desolate parts of the city. Is this the way out? Faces turn to the windows, but no-one dares ask, not out loud. Rain comes down. No, this is not a disentanglement from, but a progressive knotting into - they go in under archways, secret entrances of rotted concrete that only looked like loops of an underpass...certain trestles of blackened wood have moved slowly by overhead, and the smells begun of coal from days far to the past, smells of naptha winters, of Sundays when no traffic came through, of the coral-like and mysteriously vital growth around the blind curves and out the lonely spurs, a sour smell of rolling-stock absence, of maturing rust, developing through those emptying days brilliant and deep, especially at dawn, with blue shadows to seal it's passage, to try and bring events to the Absolute Zero...and it is poorer the deeper they go...ruinous secret cities of poor, places whose names he has never heard...the walls break down, the roofs get fewer and so do the chances for light. The road, which ought to be opening out into a broader highway, instead has been getting narrower, more broken, cornering tighter and tighter until all at once, much too soon, they are under the final arch: brakes grab  and spring terribly. It is a judgement from which there is no appeal.

The caravan has halted. It is the end of the line. All the evacuees are ordered out. They move slowly, but without resistance. Those marshalling them wear cockades the colour of lead, and do not speak. It is some vast, very old and dark hotel, an iron extension of the track and switchery by which they have come here...Globular lights, painted a dark green, hang from under the fancy iron eaves, unlit for centuries...the crowd moves without murmurs or coughing down corridors straight and functional as warehouse aisles: the smell is of old wood, of remote wings empty all the time just reopened to accommodate the rush of souls, of cold plaster where all the rats have died, only their ghosts, still as cave-painting, fixed stubborn and luminous in the walls...the evacuees are taken in lots by elevator - a moving wood scaffold open on all sides, hoisted by old tarry ropes and cast-iron pulleys whose spokes are shaped like Ss. At each brown floor, passengers move on and off...thousands of these hushed rooms without light...

Some wait alone, some share their invisible rooms with others. Invisible, yes, what do the furnishings matter at this stage of things? Underfoot crunches the oldest of city dirt, last crystallisations of all the city had denied, threatened, lied to it's children. Each has been hearing a voice, one he thought was talking only to him, say, 'You don't really believe you'd be saved. Come, we all know who we are by now. No-one was ever going to take the trouble to save you, old fellow...'

There is now way out. Lie and wait, lie still and be quiet. Screaming holds across the sky. When it comes, will it come in darkness, or will it bring it's own light? Will the light come before or after?


  • Are we human? Or are we toilet
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2018, 12:03:49 PM »
The Peregrine by JA Baker:

Something about that comes across as 'over-writing', piling on adjectives and abstractions. However, in the context of the book it may work fabulously. This is the difficulty sometimes when quoting passages.

Twit 2

  • In the boneyard of dreams
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2018, 05:05:16 PM »
Yes I know what you mean. Worth a read of that book, it’s utterly glorious.

Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2018, 05:49:18 PM »
Probably my favourite bit of writing ever. Ignatius is such a brilliant dick.

Chapter 2, Section V of A Confederacy of Dunces

When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life.
Ignatius was about to say this to himself; then he remembered that he went to the movies
almost every night, no matter which way Fortuna was spinning.
 He sat at attention in the darkness of the Prytania only a few rows from the screen, his
body filling the seat and protruding into the two adjoining ones. On the seat to his right
he had stationed his overcoat, three Milky Ways, and two auxiliary bags of popcorn, the
bags neatly rolled at the top to keep the popcorn warm and crisp. Ignatius ate his current
popcorn and stared raptly at the previews of coming attractions. One of the films looked
bad enough, he thought, to bring him back to the Prytania in a few days. Then the screen
glowed in bright, wide technicolor, the lion roared, and the title of the excess flashed on
the screen before his miraculous blue and yellow eyes. His face froze and his popcorn
bag began to shake. Upon entering the theater, he had carefully buttoned the two earflaps
to the top of his cap, and now the strident score of the musical assaulted his naked ears
from a variety of speakers. He listened to the music, detecting two popular songs which
he particularly disliked, and scrutinized the credits closely to find any names of
performers who normally nauseated him.
 When the credits had ended and Ignatius had noted that several of the actors, the
composer, the director, the hair designer, and the assistant producer were all people
whose efforts had offended him at various times in the past, there appeared in the
technicolor a scene of many extras milling about a circus tent. He greedily studied the
crowd and found the heroine standing near a sideshow.
 “Oh, my God!” he screamed. “There she is.”
 The children in the rows in front of him turned and stared, but Ignatius did not notice
them. The blue and yellow eyes were following the heroine, who was gaily carrying a
pail of water to what turned out to be her elephant.
 “This is going to be even worse than I thought,” Ignatius said when he saw the
 He put the empty popcorn bag to his full lips, inflated it, and waited, his eyes
gleaming with reflected technicolor. A tympany beat and the sound track filled with
violins. The heroine and Ignatius opened their mouths simultaneously, hers in song, his in
a groan. In the darkness two trembling hands met violently. The popcorn bag exploded
with a bang. The children shrieked.
 “What’s all that noise?” the woman at the candy counter asked the manager.
“He’s here tonight,” the manager told her, pointing across the theater to the hulking
silhouette at the bottom of the screen. The manager walked down the aisle to the front
rows, where the shrieking was growing wilder. Their fear having dissipated itself, the
children were holding a competition of shrieking. Ignatius listened to the bloodcurdling
little trebles and giggles and gloated in his dark lair. With a few mild threats, the manager
quieted the front rows and then glanced down the row in which the isolated figure of
Ignatius rose like some great monster among the little heads. But he was treated only to a
puffy profile. The eyes that shone under the green visor were following the heroine and
her elephant across the wide screen and into the circus tent.
 For a while Ignatius was relatively still, reacting to the unfolding plot with only an
occasional subdued snort. Then what seemed to be the film’s entire cast was up on the
wires. In the foreground, on a trapeze, was the heroine. She swung back and forth to a
waltz. She smiled in a huge close-up. Ignatius inspected her teeth for cavities and fillings.
She extended one leg. Ignatius rapidly surveyed its contours for structural defects. She
began to sing about trying over and over again until you succeeded. Ignatius quivered as
the philosophy of the lyrics became clear. He studied her grip on the trapeze in the hope
that the camera would record her fatal plunge to the sawdust far below.
 On the second chorus the entire ensemble joined in the song, smiling and singing
lustily about ultimate success while they swung, dangled, flipped, and soared.
 “Oh, good heavens!” Ignatius shouted, unable to contain himself any longer. Popcorn
spilled down his shirt and gathered in the folds of his trousers. “What degenerate
produced this abortion?”
 “Shut up,” someone said behind him.
 “Just look at those smiling morons! If only all of those wires would snap!” Ignatius
rattled the few kernels of popcorn in his last bag. “Thank God that scene is over.”
 When a love scene appeared to be developing, he bounded up out of his seat and
stomped up the aisle to the candy counter for more popcorn, but as he returned to his seat,
the two big pink figures were just preparing to kiss.
 “They probably have halitosis,” Ignatius announced over the heads of the children. “I
hate to think of the obscene places that those mouths have doubtlessly been before!”
 “You’ll have to do something,” the candy woman told the manager laconically. “He’s
worse than ever tonight.”
 The manager sighed and started down the aisle to where Ignatius was mumbling, “Oh,
my God, their tongues are probably allover each other’s capped and rotting teeth.”

Jakey Chesterton

  • Me analysing your posts:
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2018, 09:14:35 PM »
From the start of Moby Dick:

It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane. Therefore you must not, in every case at least, take the higgledy-piggledy whale statements, however authentic, in these extracts, for veritable gospel cetology. Far from it. As touching the ancient authors generally, as well as the poets here appearing, these extracts are solely valuable or entertaining, as affording a glancing bird’s eye view of what has been promiscuously said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan, by many nations and generations, including our own.

So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub, whose commentator I am. Thou belongest to that hopeless, sallow tribe which no wine of this world will ever warm; and for whom even Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong; but with whom one sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-devilish, too; and grow convivial upon tears; and say to them bluntly, with full eyes and empty glasses, and in not altogether unpleasant sadness—Give it up, Sub-Subs! For by how much the more pains ye take to please the world, by so much the more shall ye for ever go thankless! Would that I could clear out Hampton Court and the Tuileries for ye! But gulp down your tears and hie aloft to the royal-mast with your hearts; for your friends who have gone before are clearing out the seven-storied heavens, and making refugees of long-pampered Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, against your coming. Here ye strike but splintered hearts together—there, ye shall strike unsplinterable glasses!

Jerzy Bondov

  • get sum!!
    • Wrongfully Adapted
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2018, 11:45:17 AM »
I love this, from Speedboat by Renata Adler.

Dennis, a rich, unintelligent, and not particularly well-meaning man, revelled in his favorite expressions. When he was certain of something, he said it was as sure as God made little green apples. When he wanted no interference from someone, he would ask them to keep his cotton-picking hands off. When he felt superior to someone, he said he ate that sort of fella for breakfast. Since a good part of Dennis' day consisted in being certain, deploring interference, and feeling superior, he had occasion to use all these idioms, which he thought gruffly witty, several times a day. His appointments secretary, in whom he confided his impressions, of business, his home life, his diet, had a recurrent dream that she shot him.

Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2018, 03:18:44 PM »
The final paragraph of The Road by Cormac McCarthy:

"Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery."

"A thing which could not be put back." Devastating.

Twit 2

  • In the boneyard of dreams
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2018, 04:23:00 PM »
Yep. Similarly, the end of All the Pretty Horses:


  • Jif! Jif Moose! Jiffers!
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2018, 11:20:31 PM »
Nice excerpts - I must read Confederacy again.

Thought I'd unlurk to share a couple of my favourite. Nabokov certainly considered The Enchanter a minor experiment, and thought of it as a "dead scrap" when writing Lolita - but the ending is really something else. Realising the horror he has evoked in the very young object of his lust, the perverted protagonist desperately flees the hotel room:

For an instant, in the hiatus of a syncope, he also saw how it appeared to her: some monstrosity, some ghastly disease .... middle-aged and sweaty, covering himself with a raincoat he had glimpsed in passing, shuddering, donning it, missing the armhole. Like a child in a screen drama, she shielded herself with her sharp little elbow ... yelling senselessly, and somebody was pounding on the wall, demanding inconceivable silence. "I'll make you quiet down ... All right, I'll leave, I'll make you -" He overcame the door, rushed out, deafeningly locked it behind him, and, still listening, gripping the key in his palm, barefoot and with a cold smear beneath his raincoat, stood where he was, gradually sinking.
But from a nearby room there had already appeared two robed old women; one of them ... clawing at the palm of his hand, nimbly knocked the key to the floor. For several elastic seconds he and she had a hip-shoving match, but in any event it was all over; heads emerged from every direction, a bell was clanging somewhere, behind a door a melodious voice seemed to be finishing a nursery tale (Mr. White-Tooth in the bed, the hoodlum brothers with their little red rifles), the old woman conquered the key, he gave her a quick swat on the cheek, and, with his whole body ringing, went running down the sticky steps. Toward him briskly clambered a dark-hared fellow with a goatee, clad only in underpants; after him wriggled a puny harlot. He rushed past them. Farther down came a spectre in tan shoes, farther still the old man climbed bow-legged, followed by the avid gendarme. Past them. Leaving behind a multitude of synchronized arms extended over the banister in a splashlike gesture of invitation, he pirouetted into the street, for all was over, and it was imperative, by any strategem, by any spasm , to get rid of the no-longer-needed, already-looked-at, idiotic world, on whose final page stood a lonely streetlamp with a shaded out cat at its base. Already interpreting his sensation of barefootedness as a plunge into another element, he rushed off along the ashen sidewalk, pursued by the pounding footfalls of his already outdistanced heart. His desperate need for a torrent, a precipice, a railroad track - no matter what, but instantly - made him appeal for the very last time to the topography of his past. And when, in front of him, a grinding whine came from behind the hump of the side street, swelling to full growth when it had overcome the grade, distending the night, already illuminating the descent with two ovals of yellowish light, about to hurtle downward - then, as if it were a dance, as if the ripple of that dance had carried him to stage center, under this growing, grinning, megathundering mass, his partner in a crashing cracovienne, this thundering iron thing, this instantaneous cinema of dismemberment - that's it, drag me under, tear at my frailty - you're spinning me, don't rip me to pieces - you're shredding me, I've had enough ... Zigzag gymnastics of lighting, spectrogram of a thunderbolt's split seconds - and the film of life had burst.

The horror, the comic and nightmarish characters on the stairs, and that zoetrope ending ... goosebumps every time. Whenever I walk barefoot on pavement I always thing of it as a "plunge into another element". And the cat under the lamppost on the last page of life...

To offset that, here's a bit from Pale Fire. Charles Kinbote, the seemingly mad commentator of a poem he apparently stole from the just-dead body of his neighbor, the homely Frost-esque poet John Shade describing what happened when Shade is shot by an escaped lunatic who mistakes him for the judge that put him away. Kinbote is just such a pompous ass, making himself increasingly ridiculous as it becomes clear that his commentary is completely self-obsessed and deluded (he believes himself to be an exiled king pursued by assassins) - that the pathos when it becomes clear he actually tries to protect Shade, while protesting all the while that he was the one aimed at, just gets me every time:

"... as the caller now veered toward us and transfixed us with his snake-sad, close set eyes, I felt such a tremor of recognition that had I been in bed dreaming I would have awoken with a groan.

His first bullet ripped a sleeve button off my black blazer, another sang past my ear. It is evil piffle to assert that he aimed not at me (whom he had just seen in the library - let us by consistent, gentlemen, ours is a rational world after all), but the grey-locked gentleman behind me. Oh, he was aiming at me all right but missing me every time, the incorrigible bungler, as I instinctively backed, bellowing and spreading my great strong arms (with my left hand still holding the poem, 'still clutching the inviolable shade,' to quote Matthew Arnold 1822-1888), in an effort to halt the advancing madman and shield John, whom I feared he might, quite accidentally, hit, while he, my sweet awkward old John, kept clawing at me and pulling me after him, back to the protection of his laurels, with the solemn fussiness of a poor lame boy trying to get his spastic brother out of the range of the stones hurled at them by schoolchildren, once a familiar sight in all countries. I felt - I still feel - John's hand fumbling at mine, seeking my fingertips, finding them, only to abandon them at once as if passing to me, in a sublime relay race, the baton of life.

One of the bullets that spared me struck him in the side and went through his heart. His presence behind me abruptly failing caused me to lose my balance, and simultaneously, to complete the farce of fate, my gardener's spade dealt gunman Jack from behind the hedge a tremendous blow on the pate, felling him ... the poem was safe. John, though, lay prone on the ground ... the madman sat on the porch step, dazedly nursing with bloody hands a bleeding head. Leaving the gardener to watch over him I hurried into the house and concealed the invaluable envelope under a heap of girls' galoshes.

"Pity is the password" indeed - for a moment Kinbote becomes really tragic, truly worthy of our pity ... and then he throws it all away with his dodgy "baton of life", and the bathos of "tremendous blow to the pate" and his frantic hiding of the poem.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2018, 11:42:47 PM by JifMoose »

Twit 2

  • In the boneyard of dreams
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2018, 07:05:29 PM »
Excellent stuff! Here’s the old thread btw:


  • busting my creative balls
Re: Stonking passages of writing
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2018, 08:15:39 PM »
Addie's interior monologue in As I Lay Dying