Sunday, September 11, 2011

Phraselet No. 126

The innkeeper drew the beer and handed it over silently. Graham drank half of it off in a long swallow. His eyes were red around the edges. "Bad business last night," he said without making eye contact, then took another drink.

Kote nodded. Bad business last night. Chances are, that would be all Graham had to say about the death of a man he had known his whole life. These folk knew all about death. They killed their own livestock. They died from fevers, falls, or broken bones gone sour. Death was like an unpleasant neighbor. You didn't talk about him for fear he might hear you and decide to pay you a visit.

Except for stories, of course. Tales of poisoned kings and duels and old wars were fine. They dressed death in foreign clothes and sent him far from your door. A chimney fire or the croup-cough were terrifying. But Gibea's trial or the siege of Enfast, those were different. They were like prayers, like charms muttered late at night when you were walking alone in the dark. Stories were like ha'penny amulets you bought from a peddler, just in case.

- Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear


Chestertonian Rambler said...

I forgot about that bit. Beautiful.

I wonder what makes Rothfuss able to get away with such relatively tell-don't-show bits as this? Probably the fact that he has such a perfect ear for both the rythms of speech and the way people talk/think from within their various viewpoints that such thoughts blend seamlessly with the rest of his writing.

Loren Eaton said...

You know, he has a great command of language, a knowledge of those poetic ins-and-outs that most genre writers fail to grasp.

I did think the stuff with Felurian got a bit purple, though.

Chestertonian Rambler said...

I have to admit, I kinda like purplish prose. I feel we're living in a rather prose-centric era, where our natural rythms are those of, say, Chandler. Harsh, fast, brutal poetry, constantly cutting the legs out from under our illusions. I love Chandler's writing, but I don't want everyone to sound so ... American.

It is kinda nice to see an author really take his time, really try to create something elegant and comfy and all-encompassing and, well, Old Worldly. Prose like a Renaissance cathedral, where traditionally America has been the land of the humble Baptist church (and more recently, the super-functional non-denominational megachurch.) I'd rather a few authors (like Rothfuss) give us purple prose even when we don't need it than have everyone strive for the unceremonious jazz-beated syncopation that fills the rest of our world.

Chestertonian Rambler said...

Oh, wait. THAT Felurian. THAT kind of purple.


Chestertonian Rambler said...

If you have a taste for the incredibly, uncomfortably awkward, there is video online of a sex-scene only reading he did along with Amber Benson. Amber's sex scene was unlike Rothfuss's in that Rothfuss's was, in her words, "actually really well written." Rothfuss convinced Amber to read her scene anyway, but he had to intone the male voice in a horrifically bad Virginian accent.

Things don't get much more awkward, or funny, than that.

Loren Eaton said...

Yes, that Felurian.

I felt absurdly grateful that Rothfuss avoided prurient detail in the Felurian scenes, but they still made me ... uncomfortable. I mean, I write noir and horror and other dark stuff, but I prefer to leave a lot of it to implication. And all those similes! She was like fire, she was like ice, she was like steel, she was none of these and all of them. Yeesh.