The pleasure of beautiful writing – an appreciation of some lesser-known titles

Just a quick one from me this week after the whirlwind of school Christmas events, editing work and endless list-making…

It’s all too easy to focus on things that are ‘wrong’ or pick out amusing typos (I still snigger like a child when I see ‘pubic’ in place of ‘public’, and could barely contain my mirth when my husband recounted the tale of an e-book where OCR software had converted the printed ‘burn’ to ‘bum’), but I think it’s also important to celebrate what’s being done well.

Following on from Buzzfeed’s ’51 Of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature’ and their ‘6 Perfect Sentences’ last December, I thought I’d share a selection of my favourite excerpts taken from books I’ve edited or proofread this year. (Please note that I can’t provide the source for some of these, as some won’t be published until 2015.) In no particular order, here they are:

From Nowhere People, Paulo Scott:

In the story she told him there was a colourless girl who very much liked being kissed. One day ‘the colourless girl was by the side of the road when a squad of bikers passed her and one of them threw an apple at her back. She almost fell over, she was hurt. They stopped a few metres on, took off their helmets, laughedat her. The day, which had been lovely and sunny, clouded over. Hurt, the apple looked sad, sadder even than the girl,’ that’s how he wrote it down. And she will watch the leaves on the trees and she won’t know when his leg has gone to sleep and the time has come for them to go.

From a book due to be published in April 2015:

He travelled along a dirt lane, straight and white like a parting in the hair, between fields of new grass where larks sang and quails called out with their three notes, clear like water drops.

Due to be published in January 2015:

The thunderstorm was right overhead now. It was like the sky was pummelling the city in its ribs.

Due for publication in March 2015, this description of the prelude to the protagonist settling down to watch a rugby match on TV:

All was in readiness. The highly decorated (and priced) bottle of Pinot Noir had been breathing for a couple of hours. The fire, craftily tended and force-fed, had worked itself into a yellow-orange fury generating so much heat that the room had been opened up and outer layers discarded. The lamb shanks had been slow-cooked into submission. The panel of pundits had squeezed every last drop out of the bleeding obvious and hedged their bets. The players were about to take the field.

Another book due out in January 2015:

There were fiery and unknowable impulses just below the smooth skin. A frail bravado, an unsettling unpredictability. Above all, he possessed a hungry kind of beauty.

Under the Tripoli Sky, Kamal Ben Hameda:

And, as often happens when the night decides to divulge its secrets, the darkness was vast, like a confession of love. The stars looked on calmly as they busily wove the sky’s face. They were there in their groups, jostling for position as if wanting to console me with an initial burst of chaotic movement, for once forgetting their place in the heavenly hierarchy so that I could touch them with my hand.

And my personal favourite, from the book mentioned above due out in April 2015:

The crickets outside were like steel nibs scratching the dark.

I love the fact that however tedious an editing task may be (I’m sure all editors must hate proofreading footnotes and bibliography sections as much as I do!), I also sometimes stumble across sentences of unexpected beauty and poetry like the ones above.

And with that, I’ll have to love you and leave you, as I have another Christmas concert to attend! Until next week…

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