Friday, July 3, 2009

A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark

Mrs. Hawkins is a young war widow working as a copy editor in London in the 1950s. She is pestered by Hector Bartlett, a bad writer looking for an introduction to the boss of the publishing firm where she works.

"Hector Bartlett, it seemed to me, vomited literary matter, he urinated and sweated, he excreted it.
'Mrs. Hawkins, I take incalculable pains with my prose style.'
He did indeed. The pains showed. His writings writhed and ached with twists and turns and tergiversations, inept words, fanciful repetitions, far-fetched verbosity and long, Latin-based words."

I just loved the voice of Mrs. Hawkins. She eventually becomes so annoyed that she calls him a "pisseur de copie" to his face. This action is immensely satisfying to her, but Bartlett makes a formidable enemy.

I'm grateful to Nancy Pearl for having recommended this in her picks for summer reading. A Far Cry From Kensington would be a good match for someone looking for something along the lines of Diana Athill's Stet.

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