Here are the openers to two books. One of them won a major award. Can you guess which one?
May 2, 2013 § 6 Comments
One should never tell anyone anything or give information or pass on stories or make people remember beings who have never existed or trodden the earth or traversed the world, or who, having done so, are now almost safe in uncertain, one-eyed oblivion. Telling is almost always done as a gift, even when the story contains and injects some poison, it is also a bond, a granting of trust, and rare is the trust or confidence that is not sooner or later betrayed, rare is the close bond that does not grow twisted or knotted and, in the end, become so tangled that a razor or knife is needed to cut it. How many of my confidences remain intact, of all those I have offered up. I, who have always laid such store by my own instinct and yet have still sometimes failed to listen to it, I, who have been ingenuous for far too long? (Less so now, less, but these things are very slow to fade.) The confidences I shared with two friends remain preserved and intact, unlike those granted to another ten who lost or destroyed them; the meagre confidences shared with my father, and the chaste ones vouchsafed to my mother, which were very similar, if not the same, although those granted to her did not last very long, and she can no longer break them or, at least, only posthumously, if, one day, I were to make some unfortunate discovery, and something that was hidden ceased to be hidden; gone are the confidences given to sister, girlfriend, lover or wife, past, present or imaginary (the sister is usually the first wife, the child wife), for in such relationships it seems almost obligatory that one should, in the end, use what one knows or has seen against the beloved or the spouse – or the person who turns out to have been only momentary warmth and flesh – against whoever it was who proffered revelations and allowed a witness to their weaknesses and sorrows and was ready to confide, or against the person who absent-mindedly reminisced out loud on the pillow not even aware of the dangers, of the arbitrary eye always watching or the selective, biased ear always listening (often it’s nothing very serious, for domestic use only, when cornered or on the defensive, to prove a point if caught in a tight dialectical spot during a prolonged discussion, then it has a purely argumentative application).
And now quote #2:
Thud, thud, thud. Old Roger was banging a stick on our group log to get us up and out of our shelters.
‘Wake up, you lazy newhairs. If you don’t hurry up, the dip will be over before we even get there, and all the bucks will have gone back up Dark!’
Hmmph, hmmph, hmmph, went the trees all around us, pumping and pumping hot sap from under ground. Hmmmmmmm, went forest. And from over Peckhamway came the sound of axes from Batwing group. They were starting their wakings a couple of hours ahead of us, and they were already busy cutting down a tree.
Feel free to comment on the qualities/deficiencies of these introductory passages as well as guess who the two authors are. I’ll withhold my opinion of each for the time being; one I haven’t yet finished reading.