Where to start with “A Month in the Country” by JL Carr (1980)? Would it be hyperbole to say this is one of the most exquisite short novels ever written? Another long, hot, post-war summer; another traumatised ex-soldier (yes, looking at you Adam Thorpe!) and a deceptively simple tale of – what? Healing? The strangeness of love? The quiet tragedy of missed opportunities? Three gifts* for the writer-reader: (1) Economy (not to be confused with parsimony); economy of dialogue, description, even plot. Not a single wasted word, self-indulgent sentiment or look-at-me adjective. (2) Ambiguity (not to be confused with literary carelessness). How did they – ? What happened to – ? And why didn’t he kiss her? (3) Precision (not to be confused with coldness). In the whole book, a mere half-dozen sentences of introspection and writerly awareness. Enough to jolt and move. No more and no less. [*The notion of identifying “Three Gifts” for writers is courtesy of editor, teacher and writer @mrandrewwille http://wille.org/blog/home/ ] #amreading #amwriting #writinginspiration
Hannah Hulme Hunter
Writer of literary historical fiction set in the Great War (First World War). Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.