Friday, September 5, 2014

Ne'er the Twain

5th September 2014

I gave up on Mark Twain's time travel book "A Yankee in the Court of King Arthur" - for the time being, let's just say. I thought I ought to read it, so that I didn't look non-plussed the next time I do a Q&A and someone asks for a comparative study of my book in the light of Twain's. Well, I am glad he wrote a time travel book, because it lends the genre some street cred, but it is much more of a tongue-in-cheek affair than my book is - it's Twain, what would you expect? Not sure what his point was, except to show mankind's inimitable progress since days of yore. His is set in the fifth century,  but he gets the time period all wrong. He didn't have access to the internet, of course, and I don't know how I would have done without that particularly wonderful tool, but his characters speak in Shakespearean English at a time when English didn't even exist! He decides to show the savages the better part of how democracy works, and he's always going about impressing the backward folk with his inventions, though he needs materials for these (matches?) that he wouldn't have been able to find. Like me, he does have it in for the church, though, and how it upholds feudalism - but just so long as you're talking of the Catholic church (no such distinction, Mark, in the fifth century!) He's fine with the reformed church, and I am fine with neither. Unless you're looking for rules for sheep herding, you're probably not either.
So, I put Twain's book down on my bedside table on the pile that I know I ought to be reading but probably won't get back to (it's getting quite high.)

What I want to be reading instead is Edna O'Brien. I recently acquired her Country Girls trilogy and I am racing my way through them. There is something very raw and sweet about O'Brien's writing, especially in these early books.  In the very real and funny dialogue and in the gorgeous and minute observations lies a real poignancy. After the first book, I came away thinking I ought to write a book like that, only set in Scotland, and then I remembered that I had. It's called "Above Duntrune" and it is the book that my agent initially picked me up for (but hasn't yet sold - Country Girls probably wouldn't get past the drawbridge of publishing houses these days either.)
As for me, I am back off to Scotland next week to lend my support to the Scottish Referendum, to wave my Scottish flag in the face of the unionists, and to romp about the wild green places, because I am at the end of the day a country girl myself.....

Well, not that kind of country girl, though I wouldn't mind being that handsome! (I'd probably ditch the yellow earrings, though.)

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