Apropos of nothing

(Via David Tiley) It had to happen I suppose:

First, there was the novel written without using the letter “e”. Now a French author has produced what he claims is the first book with no verbs.

Perhaps inevitably, critics have commented unfavourably on the lack of action in Michel Thaler’s work, The Train from Nowhere, which runs to 233 pages. Instead of action, lengthy passages are filled with florid adjectives in a series of vitriolic portraits of dislikeable passengers on a train.

In a typical piece of prose, Mr Thaler writes: “. . . Those women there, probably mothers, bearers of ideas far too voluminous for their brains of modest capacity.”

Reminds me of Gummo’s post about the aggro old bloke on the tram, there might be a point in writing a book without verbs just as there was probably a good reason to write Ulysees or Finnegans Wake but I never finished either of them so I’d better not comment, then again I didn’t finish Tolkien’s Silmarillion either, or Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, one of these days I must get around to writing a post about famous books I couldn’t be fucked reading and invite readers to submit their own nominations, then again I shouldn’t say “fuck” or “cunt” because Professor Bunyip wouldn’t approve, though using a pseudo-coy asterisked form (f**k) is far more self-consciously obscene than the blunt, earthy, anglo-saxon (or is it celtic?) epithet itself, Lawrence in Lady Chatterley for instance, I mostly finished Lawrence’s books – sex always keeps my attention, spewing out a stream of consciousness without any fullstops is strangely seductive, I hope not too many of my students read this, many of them have a pretty tenuous grasp of punctuation as it is …

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.
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15 Responses to Apropos of nothing

  1. actually “fuck” is thought to be swedish in origin but while “cunt” is probably a mixture of indo european dutch celtic and latin and a learned disquisition of the word can be found here if you feel so inclined to read it and by the way do you like my deployment of the run-on sentence without punctuation marks of any sort nor indeed capitalisation and oh how french i feel with my flagrant disregard of the rules of language

  2. Jacques Chester says:

    The most useful rule of literature my father ever taught me was that “novelty is the same as quality”. Run-on sentences were novel in their time, but they also betray a certain laziness and disregard for the reader.

  3. Norman says:

    Few students these days could possibly hope to write even one page without a verb, as they wouldn’t know what it was that they had omit.

  4. I’m going to be charitable and assume the “-ted” Norman omitted from “omitted” above was deliberate in an attempt at some sort of joke.

  5. Nabakov says:

    Yes James, charity is probably the best approach when it comes to ole Norm, tho’ his track record doesn’t point much to being funny on purpose.

    For those who are interested, the “e” free novel in question was ‘La Disparition’, penned by George Perec (natch!) when he was hangin’ with the Oulipo mob – a whimsical bunch of mainly French talkers, drinkers and writers, but with some surprising people floating through their penumbra like Richard “Four Fucking Weddings and a Shitty Funeral” Curtis, who, in his more nubile days, wrote “A Skinhead Hamlet” partly under their influence.

    And look everyone, a comment that doesn’t once use the letter “Z”…

    …oh bugger!

  6. Nabakov says:

    Yes James, charity is probably the best approach when it comes to ole Norm, tho’ his track record doesn’t point much to being funny on purpose.

    For those who are interested, the “e” free novel in question was ‘La Disparition’, penned by George Perec (natch!) when he was hangin’ with the Oulipo mob – a whimsical bunch of mainly French talkers, drinkers and writers, but with some surprising people floating through their penumbra like Richard “Four Fucking Weddings and a Shitty Funeral” Curtis, who, in his more nubile days, wrote “A Skinhead Hamlet” partly under their influence.

    And look everyone, a comment that doesn’t once use the letter “Z”…

    …oh bugger!

  7. Nabakov says:

    Yes James, charity is probably the best approach when it comes to ole Norm, tho’ his track record doesn’t point much to being funny on purpose.

    For those who are interested, the “e” free novel in question was ‘La Disparition’, penned by George Perec (natch!) when he was hangin’ with the Oulipo mob – a whimsical bunch of mainly French talkers, drinkers and writers, but with some surprising people floating through their penumbra like Richard “Four Fucking Weddings and a Shitty Funeral” Curtis, who, in his more nubile days, wrote “A Skinhead Hamlet” partly under their influence.

    And look everyone, a comment that doesn’t once use the letter “Z”…

    …oh bugger!

  8. Nabakov says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts. I think the web had a routerfart there for a while.

    But at least now Norm can read the comment three times.

  9. Norman says:

    You always were one for quantity rather than quality, Nab, which still doesn’t explain your irony meter’s constant malfunctioning, even if it does make your testiness more excusable.
    Go in peace, Nab.

    Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. [[I thought this might help you to repeat yourself in future, without using quite so much space]]

  10. James Hamilton says:

    My feeling is Norman missed “to” between “had” and “omit” rather than “ted” at the end of the latter. Only Norman can tell us what his crime actually was. Nabokov posted three times and his point still is not clear to me. I suspect that by this confession I am supporting it?

  11. Nabakov says:

    No point really James, beyond some background on novelistic wordplay and a chance to poke fun at ole Normy.

    The triple post was just me, impatient and rather pissed, interacting poorly with the “post” button.

  12. Actually there’s two books without the letter e, the other one being called Gatsby (not to be confused with the Fitzgerald book with a similar title). I don’t know who the author was, but I suspect he did not complete the joke as Perec did by writing a story where the letter e was the *only* vowel used…

  13. Thomas the Tout says:

    A string a humourous comments, lads. Sorry to interrupt the flow: I am grateful to know that Ken has trouble with “great” books that prove to be as boring as bat-shit. I now feel much less guilty, and much more competent. (Or, perhaps, I now know that there are 2 guilty and incompetent philistines in the world).
    Does any one have a ref. for a site that gives a potted version of these classics? (memo Readers Digest- here is some good material for your condensed books).

  14. Actually you’ll probably find most intelligent people have issues with “great books” at some point or other. It’s not necessarily a sign of philistinism, and may indicate that the “great book” is, actually, crap. People are just somewhat scared of admitting their issues with “great books” for some reason…

  15. Norman says:

    It may be sad, Nab, when someone misses the point re HOW you’ve written something; but nowhere near as sad as it would be if you thought [even as an “ole” person in his declining years]that you’d reached the level of whoever had missed that point.
    By all means have a “poke”, Nab; but try to lift your game when you do.

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