Dialogue – Speaking Directly


What does one do with rainy miserable weather on a weekend? Read a book.

A friend loaned me a book more than a year ago. It is a first edition book from his personal library, so I placed it beside the bed to read. Other books were recommended or given to me later and also tidily stacked. I kept my friend’s book on top of the pile. I wanted to take care of it. I also wanted to read it first, when the spare hours presented themselves. Finally, a rainy weekend arrived with weather too cold for other activities.  So, out came the book I’d preserved for this chance.

It is a wonder full (yes, that is exactly what I meant to say) book, lyrically and imaginatively written.  I cannot speed read through this book. There is too much wordsmithing to miss a single turn of phrase. It is an old book (1983) written in a style that is non-existent in the realm of Elmore Leonard-molded authors. It is other worldly thus far, so I assume that deserves the stained-glass word window the author painstakingly puts together a piece at a time.

The title is Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin.

Do you remember a couple of posts back I confessed my sin of communicating in a very direct manner? In Helprin’s book, I found a segment of dialogue that made me giggle because the character is like me. He doesn’t want to beat around the bush, but urges the other character to get to the point. I also happen to think it is well done dialogue, so will share a snippet of it here. I hope you enjoy it.

    “You know what?” said Issac Penn.

     “Sir?”

     “You look like a crook. Who are you, what do you do, what is your relationship to Beverly, are you aware of her special condition, and what are your motivations, intentions, and desires? Tell the absolute truth, don’t elaborate, stop if a child or servant comes in, and be brief.”

     “How can I be brief? These are complicated questions.”

     “You can be brief. If you were one of my journalists, you’d be finished by now. God created the world in six days. Ape him.”

     “I’ll try.”

     “Unnecessary.”

     “All right.”

     “Unnecesary.”

I will admit that real-life conversation with someone that “direct” feels like an interrogation.  Yes, I get it.

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5 responses »

  1. I have read this book many times. Each reading is more refreshing than the last. I am glad you are enjoying it–for many of the same reasons I have.

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