Tuesday, August 8, 2006

on toddler persistence, dog grooming and a writer's details

Monday, August 07, 2006

on toddler persistence, dog grooming and a writer's details
Current mood: lonely

There are few things as maddeningly persistent as a 3 year old. Often the maddening part is that whatever it is he is persisting in, makes no logical sense to me at all. From my utterly unenlightened adult perspective, this most irritating repetition is absolutely pointless. Perhaps the fact that it is irritating IS the point, but I hope not. I hope he is merely testing some parameter of his existence, and not deliberately pushing my buttons. Oh, wait- deliberately pushing my buttons IS a means of testing the parameters of his existence. Sigh. Knowing it has some sort of point doesn't really make it less irritating, though. I've been gritting my teeth and looking heavenward a lot more than I used to, these days. At least he is usually cheerful about it, even if I am not.

Why is it that the fur of a dog's hindquarters is the part that most needs thorough brushing, when it is the part most dogs least like having brushed?

I've been reading a Martha Grimes mystery novel. She is surprisingly little known it seems, and she is one of my favorite authors. She has a series of mystery novels featuring a Scotland Yard detective named Richard Jury, in case you want to look them up at your library. There are so many little things about her style that I enjoy. It seems every time I read another book in the series, I notice something else clever, interesting or skillful that she has done. For instance, the books are written in third person. The reader may follow Jury through the story, or any other character she chooses to send you with. Jury is a handsome man, with a certain inexplicable charisma. I noticed recently that while the reader is with Jury, the people (especially women) that he interacts with behave differently than they do when we are following a different character through the story- Jury's friend Melrose Plant, for instance. In Jury's presence, woman characters often primp in an automatic, distracted sort of way. The way Grimes includes this behavior is very subtle- I have read many of these novels, and only just noticed what has been going on. The effect is to very subtly reinforce what we know of our main characters, and sometimes to shed a small light on the peculiarities of bit players. When the reader is with Plant, most of these other characters lose this nervous behavior. (Though they may have different subtle reactions to Plant). It's very skillfully done, and I'm interested to note it because I've always thought characterization is one of Grimes' strongest points.

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