Somewhere in the recent past I came across a comment saying that, in effect, when we read Faulkner we need a dictionary close at hand. When we read Hemingway, we understand every word.
“Now turn and look at it,” the old general said. But he already had, was—down the declivity’s black pitch to where the city lay trembling and myriad with lights in its bowl of night like a scatter of smoldering autumn leaves in the windy darkness, thicker and denser than the stars in its concentration of anguish and unrepose, as if all darkness and terror had poured down in one wash, one wave, to lie palpatant and unassuageable in the Place de Ville.
Hemingway: The Dangerous Summer
“The food is quite good here.”
After the second large pitcher of Valdepenas he said,” So is the wine.”
I was eating a delicate order of fried baby eels in garlic that resembled bamboo sprouts slightly crisped at the tips but had a more lubricious texture. They filled a large deep dish and were heavenly to eat and hell on anyone you met afterwards in a closed room or even in the open air.
“Eels are excellent,” I said, “Can’t really tell about the wine yet. Care for any eels?”
“Perhaps a single order,” Bill said. “Try the wine. You may like it.”
“Another large pitcher please,” I said to the waiter.
“Yes, Don Ernesto. Here it is. I had it waiting.”
I am currently reading, for the third or fourth time, Willie Morris: The Last of the Southern Girls. A great book. If you haven’t read it, do: put it on your list. The writing itself is the most beautiful use of words that I can at the moment put my finger on. You can understand every word; but, oh! the way they are put together.
It was a lovely spring morning, Washington at it’s best, all green and cool from the rains, the air fragrant with the smell of growing things, the marbles and domes and columns gleaming in the sun, the little yellow buds glimmering in the oaks and elms of the plazas and squares. Soon the foliage would burst overnight into flaming springtime colors, first the forsythia and cherries and then the azaleas and dogwoods, the promise of an early spring matched her mood, for she had never felt happier than on the drive up Pennsylvania Avenue, and in her bright red sweater and bronze necklace and flaring white skirt she herself was touched ineffably with the season.
“Any chance I can steal you for my office?” the senator asked her.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about _____ I’d hate to throw it away.”
“But getting constituents across wooden bridges isn’t my idea of power,” he said.
“I’m afraid I made that up.” Her laughter wafted through the capacious hallway, and several passersby turned to look.
Three of my heroes. And then there is, of course, Elmore Leonard.
Whose dialogue is just the best!