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Singing, Crying, Stating, Murmuring, Things Unintelligible

But Watt heard nothing of this, because of the other voices, singing, crying, stating, murmuring, things unintelligible, in his ear. With these, if he was not familiar, he was not unfamiliar either. So he was not alarmed, unduly. Now these voices, sometimes they sang only, and sometimes they cried only, and sometimes they stated only, and sometimes they murmured only, and sometimes they sang and cried, and sometimes they sang and stated, and sometimes they sang and murmured, and sometimes they cried and stated, and sometimes they cried and murmured, and sometimes they stated and murmured, and sometimes they sang, and cried, and stated, and sometimes they sand and cried and murmured, and sometimes they cried and stated and murmured, and sometimes they sang, and cried, and stated, and murmured, all together, at the same time, as now, to mention only these four kinds of voices, for there were others. And sometimes Watt understood all, and sometimes he understood much, and sometimes he understood little, and sometimes he understood nothing, as now. 29

 

You are prolly saying WTF. It’s okay. You just read an excerpt from Watt, a 1953 novel by an Irish modernist novelist called Samuel Beckett. His novels tend to be dark and quirky. I like the feeling of this passage. There is something unsettling, maybe even annoying, about having to a recycle a string of verbs over and over again in a way that is not even that inventive. But there is also something comforting about the nursery rhyme feel. Imagine a whole novel filled with moments like this.  Anyway, let me know what you think.  From time to time, I’ll share excerpt from books I’m reading. Sometimes, all it takes to make us read a book is a tinie-tiny taste of what it’s like.

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Photo Credit: Avigdor Arikha

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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