Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wonderful Writing

This morning I wanted to share a blurb from the book I'm reading. It's by Zadie Smith, whom I thoroughly enjoy and whom I think is a superb writer.

"At Paddington the doors opened and he stepped into the warm smog of the station. He wound his scarf into a ball and stuffed it in his pocket. He was no tourist and did not look about him, not hat the sheer majesty of interior space, nor at that intricate greenhouse ceiling of patterned glass and steel. He walked straight out to the open air, where he might roll a cigarette and smoke it. The absence of snow was sensational. To hold a cigarette without wearing gloves, to reveal one's whole face to the air! Howard rarely felt moved by an English skyline, but today just to see an oak and an office block, outlined by a bluish sky with no interpolation of white on either, seemed to him a landscape of rare splendour and refinement. Relaxing in a narrow corridor of sun, Howard leaned against a pillar. A stretch of black cabs lined up. People explained where they were going and were given generous help lugging bags into back seats. Howard was taken aback to hear twice in five minutes the destination 'Dalston'. Dalston was a filthy East End slum when Howard was born into it, full of filthy people who had tried to destroy him - not least of all his own family. Now, apparently, it was the sort of place where perfectly normal people lived. A blonde in a long powder-blue overcoat holding a portable computer and a pot plant, an Asian boy dressed in a cheap, shiny suit that reflected light like beaten metal - it was impossible to imagine these people populating the East London of his earliest memory. Howard dropped his fag and nudged it into the gutter. He turned back and walked through the station, keeping pace with a flow of commuters, allowing himself to be bustled by them down the steps to the underground. In a standing-room-only tube carriage pressed up against a determined reader, Howard tried to keep his chin clear of a hardback and considered his mission, such as it was."

I just love her word choice, and description of detail. Of course the fact that it takes place in London, my most favourite of all places, probably factors in somewhere as well. It's a good read - I recommend it (and it's the first book I've rented from the Public Library since joining last week!)

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