Digest V1 #880 then Why I love DWJ

Beck Laxton blaxton at zentropypartners.com
Thu Sep 16 13:03:25 EDT 2004

Oh, this is so frustrating! Lots of fascinating threads, but I have to go
and catch a coach home to Sawston (near Cambridge, in England) and because I
work a four-day week and my laptop is being mended and anyway I only moved
in eight weeks ago and haven't got a phone line yet, I can't write anything
till Monday. 

I wouldn't normally announce my temporary absence so formally, but I'd hate
you to think I'd decided to re-lurk for any reason. Thanks you very much for
the warm welcome. I'm so pleased to be here!

I'm halfway through a 'Why I love DWJ' post, which I'll hastily pout down
here (if I ponder the thoughts, they will evaporate as dew in the mist).
It's partly because (apropos of the *Declare* comments) she never gets her
facts wrong. I think I probably have absolute trust in her as a narrator.
She doesn't produce in me any of those niggles that prey on your mind with
lesser writers ('But surely Harry can't pick up that book if he's already
carrying a cloak and a candle?' 'But isn't that same character who she said
was xx years old in the last book?'). This works on a larger scale, too: I
don't think I've ever thought 'But surely that character wouldn't do that!'
Or 'Oh no, that couldn't possibly happen!' in a DWJ. 

She never seems to write about anything she doesn't really understand - and
she understands an awful lot of things. I was quite worried, early in F&H,
that Tom turning out to be a cellist was going to mean lots of embarrassing
musical faux pas. Cf that Mary Wesley book where there was a string quartet
that had a conductor (never happens) or the author - a fairly respectable
(??) one, ISTR - who had a character learning the harpsichord so that she
could play Schubert (19th-century music on a 17th-century instrument -
nope!). And of course DWJ gets everything *exactly* right about music and
musicians - not just the facts, but the atmosphere, the economics, the
emotions. Even the damn technique. 

Perhaps it seems more remarkable because she only uses this knowledge in
this one book? So if she can be so casual with her expertise, she must know
lots and lots about lots of things? Oh yes, I've just remembered that my
one-time astro-phsicist partner read Dogsbody and said it was quite accurate
about what we know about zois. 

I think I'm talking about how real knowledge feeds into creativity to
produce something that's more convincing because it convinces in every
aspect. Though it may of curse be less profound than that. And now I have to
run - curses!


Beck Laxton
London and Cambridge
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