You will read many memorable books in your lifetime. Sometimes it is because of the plot. More often it’s because of wonderful characterization. The books I really cherish and keep returning to are those where the words literally sing. They are like jewels strung together on a necklace, glittering and radiating light.
Although the words are prose, they read like poetry. John Steinbeck had this gift … who can ever forget the lyrical quality of “Cannery Row”, “Of Mice and Men” and “The Grapes of Wrath”? Of more contemporary novelists, I retain forever in my heart the descriptions in the novels of Pat Conroy. In “The Prince of Tides”, his phrases resonate in my memory:
“… the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils … the river turned to flame in a quiet duet of gold..” And then again, in his “Beach Music” almost every page has words that sing to me, like: “The shinier, silk-tender air came streaming over me with each mile we travelled, and I could smell my own boyhood sneaking up in a slow, purloined dream as I closed my eyes and let the chemistry of time allow me to repossess those chased-off, ghostly scents of my lost youth…” The words return to me again and again, and I am haunted by their beauty.
Great writers let you not only share their eyes, but they let you hear, touch, smell and taste , giving you an all-embracing experience that lets you enter their world as a participant, not just a transient visitor.
In my historical novel, “The Pomegranate Pendant” which was made into a movie under the title of “The Golden Pomegranate”, I created a heroine named Mazal who comes to live in Jerusalem in 1882. By the end of the book, it is 1956 and she is an old lady of 88. knowing that she will soon die. My readers had stayed with me as she matured from a naive, illiterate child-bride to a dignified and wise woman of property. I wanted their farewell to her at the finale of the book to be memorable, so I used all her five senses to make the words sing:
“I looked up through the branches and saw the stars shimmering like a million diamonds, the moon golden like my pomegranate pendant. I listened to the wind sighing in the fir trees that pointed like sentinels towards heaven. I inhaled the fragrance of a magnolia tree in the garden, and rosemary, basil and thyme wafting down from the Judean hills … herbs that my mother had grown in Sana’a and I had planted in my tiny plot in the Old City. I stooped and took a handful of soil and let it run between my fingers. I was saying goodbye to Jerusalem and had used all my five senses but one, in this silent dialogue with the city I loved. I hoped that Paradise would look like Jerusalem. And then I tasted it – the salt of the tears that were slowly trickling from my eyes….”
If you want to leave your readers with a special memory – a fragrance; a taste like sweet, summer wine, the touch of silk, the sound of music; a special vision – involve all the senses, and let your words sing!
My new novella, “Autumn Blessing” , an e-book, was released on Sept. 25th and there have already been some lovely reviews posted. You can purchase it by going to these links:
(I hope you can click on the amazon link and not have to type it out letter by letter, or you might still be sitting here when I send my next post in 3 days!) Happy writing! It has also been added to the section above titled My Books.