Writing people: lessons from Charles D'Ambrosio

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yeah. I'm bowled over by Charles D'Ambrosio's Loitering: New and Collected Essays. One. Hundred. Percent. I mentioned this yesterday. I may well mention it again. Read the book, and learn.

Lesson of the day. How to write a person. I don't know that I've ever seen it done any better than this. From the essay "Winning":

Al tended the bar at night. He'd been in the merchant marine and ate with a fat clunky thumb holding down his plate, as if he were afraid the whole place might pitch and yaw and send his dinner flying. He was dwarfish and looked like an abandoned sculpture, a forgotten intention. His upper body was a a slablike mass, a plinth upon which his head rested; he had a chiseled nose and jaw, a hack-job scar of a mouth; his hands were thick and stubby, more like paws than anything prehensile. Sitting back behind the bar, smoking Pall Malls, he seemed petrified, the current shape of his body achieved by erosion, his face cut by clumsy strokes and blows. His eyes, though, were soft and blue, always wet and weepy with rheum, and when you looked at Al, you had the disorienting sense of something trapped, something fluid and human caught inside the gray stone vessel of his gargoyle body, gazing out through those eyes.

Abandoned sculpture: fantastic. A forgotten intention: genius. Something fluid caught inside a gargoyle body: are you kidding me?

I, for one, have some work to do before I can ever be fully satisfied with anything I write. The bar has been D'Ambrosio raised.


Serena said...

This sounds phenomenal!

Jules. said...

CD'A is nothing but the truth.

If you haven't read his fiction, do dig in. Once you're done with Loitering, that is. His fiction carries the same moody, ethereal, language mastery as his nonfiction. He's incredible.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper II by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP