Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The crucial matter of diction

Must share this devastatingly immaculate comment from Nicholas Lezard's rave review of Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos, chosen from readers' suggestions for the Guardian First Book Award, and which he says has 'no such slips':
Readers of Emma Donoghue's Room may have wondered how her five-year-old narrator fails to understand the word "stable" when applied to a patient's condition, yet is quite capable of transcribing words such as "catatonic". Readers tend to forgive this kind of thing these days – the slipping of authorial control, the fumbling of register. Well, I don't. If you're going to have an imprisoned child narrate a novel, then not so much as a word should be out of place. Otherwise it's like seeing a boom microphone in the frame, or a legionary wearing a wristwatch. (Sometimes, of course, such mistakes are deliberate, but not, I think, in this instance.) 
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