Write on Wednesday Exercise 14 – The Mighty Mighty Rewrite…
This week’s rewriting exercise has left me a little… stuck. I know my favourite book and was at first really excited about the task but as I took fingertips to keyboard the enormity of it hit me. I have chosen Zadie Smith’s On Beauty and in doing so I must not end this post without nodding to EM Forster’s Howards End, a book with which On Beauty shares a close relationship in opening lines (the opening line in Howards End is “One may as well begin with Helen’s letters to her sister”).
My Rewrite Paragraph
One may as well begin with Adam’s facebook messages to his mother:
Date: September 2nd
You didn’t reply to my last facemail but that’s ok, I can pretty well imagine your reaction to everything I said in it so I’ll carry on as if you did. I’m loving the weather here, Bangkok is beyond amazing. The humidity is unreal, there is a permanent steam of sweat down my back. You remember how Chip David offered me that internship? I’m working in his office. The office is good, there’s a couple of Aussies there (there’s one from Caloundra – that’s where you were born right?), a Kiwi and a few Brits so I’m pretty comfortable. It’s a pretty close knit environment so I get to work closely with Chip. The office is in this really cool part of Bangkok, it’s not far to get to Khao San Road. We get tuk tuks there after work on Fridays for drinks and we get the drivers to race – you would hate it but it’s awesome fun. You would hate the weather, it’s insane humid. Most of the time when you’re walking around, you feel like you’re not even in your own body. Like the entire world in steaming. It’s weird… it’s all more ominous somehow.
Zadie Smith’s On Beauty:
One may as well begin with Jerome’s e-mails to his father:
Date: Nov 5th
Hey Dad – basically I’m just going to keep on keeping on with these mails – I’m no longer expecting you to reply but I am still hoping you will, if that makes sense.
Well, I’m really enjoying everything. I work in Monty Kipps’ own office (did you know that he’s actually Lord Monty??), which is in the Green Park area. It’s me and a Cornish girl called Emily. She’s cool. There’s also three more yank interns downstairs (one from Boston!), so I feel pretty much at home. I’m a kind of an intern with the duties of a PA – organising lunches, filing, talking to people on the phone, that kind of thing. Monty’s work is much more than just the academic stuff – he’s involved with the Race Commission and he has church charities in Barbados, Jamaica, Haiti etc – he keeps me pretty busy. Because it’s such a small set-up, I get to work closely with him – and of course I’m living with the family now, so it’s like being completely integrated into something new. Ah, the family. You didn’t respond so I’m imagining your reaction (not too hard to imagine . . . ) the truth is it was really just the most convenient option at the time. And they were totally kind to offer – I was being evicted from the ‘bedsit’ place in Marylebone – and the Kipps aren’t under any obligation to me, but they asked and I accepted – gratefully. I’ve been in their place a week now, and still no mention of any rent, which should tell you something. I know you want me to tell you it’s a nightmare but I can’t – I love living here. It’s a different universe. The house is just wow – early Victorian, a ‘terrace’- unassuming looking outside but massive inside – but there’s still a kind of humility that really appeals to me – almost everything white, and a lot of hand-made things, and quilts and dark wood shelves and cornices – and in the whole place there’s only one television, which is in the basement anyway just so Monty can keep abreast of news stuff, and some of the stuff he does on the television – but that’s it. I think of it as the negativized image of our house sometimes . . . It’s in this bit of North London ‘Kilburn’ which sounds bucolic but boy oh boy is not bucolic in the least, except for this street we live on off the ‘high road’ and it’s suddenly like you can’t hear a thing and you can just sit in the yard in the shadow of this huge tree – 80 feet tall and ivy-ed all up the trunk . . . reading and feeling like you’re in a novel . . . Autumn’s different here – Fall much less intense and trees balder earlier – everything more melancholy somehow.
Thanks again Ink Paper Pen, this one was a slippery little bugger!