Brian Slesinsky's Weblog

Saturday, 15 May 2004

Amplifying the Details

"A round red soccer ball is thrown into the air and after a while it comes back to earth. In answer to the question what happened? (or, perhaps, what really happened?), novelists know the event and the way that it is described - its story - are inextricably linked, the event, or events, becoming what they are and gaining a sense of their identity from the stories told about them and the stories gaining their point and their purpose from the events that they describe.

"Observing the ball going up and coming down, the novelist is irresistably inclined to amplify the details. The ball going up, hanging there, hung, the sun sparkling in the sky, the air shimmering, the ball turning in all that glimmering gold, its white seam distinct against the red leather, the ball heavy now, rotating languidly in the calm clear air, falling faster downward, down, the ground and the grass, dew on the lawn, the ball bouncing as it hits, and then bouncing again, a final sodden thump, there, over there, a puppy on the lawn, the smell of lemon blossoms, a young girl in cut-offs, her red lips arched together in concentration."

- David Berlinski in A Tour of the Calculus