Thursday, 11 March 2010

Karl Marx Back on form

SVA welcomed Helen Jones, owner of Bewdley Books and novelist, as a prospective new member joining this meeting to try us for size. Helen settled in quickly and was an early contributor to the perennial SVA topic of the use of adverbs. She tended towards the there is nothing wrong with them; they add colour and can aid the rhythm of a sentence majority. (The pedants among you will have noticed that the words in italics should by rights have been linked by hyphens to form one Mother-of-all compound adjective but I couldn't be bothered.)  :)
We moved on to the meat in the meeting sandwich, the reading of an extract from Karl Marx and Careful Driving by Chris Smith. Everybody agreed that this is Chris's writing at its best. Here he achieved a balance between the threads of his complex project, giving us the 'knights of the road' narrative and travelogue interspersed with history and philosophy. Chris writes easy-to-read prose even when he is discussing mind-stretching stuff such as Plato's observations on the Eternality of Truths.
Tony contributed some ideas about typographical structure which we all agreed would improve the reader's experience. Linda described a picture of Chris as a conductor bringing in each of the orchestra's sections to achieve the symphonial experience which Karl Marx and Careful Driving could be.
Our forensic ears inevitably detected a few discords of either grammar or word choice and these were offered as constructive criticism. The general view though was that this extract was the model for how the whole book should proceed.
One question persists - does it mean it's an Eternal Question? Plato was strutting his stuff 2400 years ago so we describe his activities in the past tense. He believed stuff. But does this mean we should describe his beliefs using the past tense? This gives us 'Plato believed Truth was Eternal.' If Truth was Eternal it still is. In any event, when he believed, he did so using the present tense (I, Plato, believe Truth is Eternal.') so should we describe what he believed using the present tense? No definitive solution presented itself.
And there we shall leave our band of budding authors in the sparkling new luxury of the upstairs room of the Arches Bar discussing the eternal mysteries of prose ...