Writing Prompt: Creating the perfect fit

My tastes in books tends to be a bit eclectic. I have Japanese thrillers, historical fiction, contemporary British, history, philosophy, fantasy, horror and science fiction (to name a few).  There is no predicting what will capture my attention on a given day when I wander into Waterstone’s on Princes Street. When I go in, I tell myself that I won’t buy anything. I’ll just browse. I’ve written before about how libraries and bookshops calm me. You can measure my mood by the weight of my shopping bag.

As I looked at my overflowing bookcase at home, deciding what to read, I couldn’t decide. So, I selected five book at random and began to flick through them. I came across a passage in one of them and stopped.

“There’s only one way to overcome the fear: you’ve got to stab someone else with an ice pick.” (from: Piercing, Ryu Muurakami)

Interesting, I thought. Curious of what the others contained, I flicked through them and stopped at random pages. I closed my eyes for a moment, and letting my fingers guide me through the pages, I stopped somewhere in the middle of each. I opened my eyes letting them rest on any sentence they chose first, then marked the line. When I had done this with every book, I copied each line and this is what I got:

“I understand, though,” Mr. Lettreblair continued, “that she attached no importance to the money. Therefore, as the family say, why not let well enough alone?” (from: The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton)

“Before they has reached the top the painter threw the door wide open and with a deep bow invited K to enter.” (from The Trial, Franz Kafka)

“Oh Grady, I’m so glad you’re there. So many bad things are happening at once.” (from: Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon)

“He looks at his watch. It is twenty to one, which is not bad, and he won’t even mentions she’s late.  This is what he’d call within bounds.” (from: The Kiss, Joan Lingard)

These are all buried deep within the pages of very different books by authors that span from 1920 to 2002. The authors were Japanese, Scottish, American and Czech.

So, faced with the range of where the lines and books come from, it’s not impossible to picture a scenario where these lines might well fit together.

Try this: Pick five books, pick five lines at random and see if you can create a scene or a storyline where they might all fit.

Writing Prompt: Creating the perfect fit

I love this old gag…

Nate The Snake
Author Unknown

A truck driver is heading west across the Arizona desert. He
has been driving all night, and as the sun starts to rise,
he feels the need to stop and commune with nature. He pulls
to the side of the road, parks, and walks out into the sage

As he is standing there, looking around at the beauty of the
early morn, he notices a lever sticking out of the ground.
After a few moments, he walks over, walks all the way
around, and then reaches out to grasp the lever. Just as he
does, he hears a voice say, “Don’t touch that lever.”

The driver jumps about two feet off the ground, and as he
comes down, he looks around. No one is to be seen. Thinking
it was just his imagination, he again reaches for the lever.
Again the voice yells, “I said don’t touch that lever!”
Being more prepared, the driver senses the location of the
voice and looks down under a sage brush. There he sees a
small snake.

The driver, in much astonishment, said, “Was that you that
just spoke?”

The snake said, “Yes. I have to keep people from touching
that lever. If the lever is moved, it will be the end of the

The driver, still rather astonished, said, “What is your
name? And will you talk on TV?” The snake said his name was
Nate and that he wasn’t interested in going on TV; anyway,
he had to stay and watch the lever to see that it wasn’t
moved. The driver said, “Look, I will get the networks to
send out camera crews. That way, you can inform the entire
world about the danger of the lever.”

Nate thought that over and allowed as how there was a great
deal of sense to the idea. The driver, true to his word, got
the network camera crews out. They put on broadcasts in
which Nate warned the entire world of the dangers of moving
the lever.

A few weeks later, another truck driver was going through
the area. He was following an oil tanker, and the tanker
sprang a leak. When the driver’s truck hit the slick, it
went out of control, and he found himself headed straight
for the lever. He remembered seeing Nate on the TV telling
about the lever and so he knew that if he hit it, he would
cause the world to end. He strove, with all his might to
maneuver the truck. Finally, at the last moment, he was able
to swerve, but he ran over Nate, the snake, and killed him

The truck driver was heard to say “Well, better Nate than lever.”

The Book List – Revised (passing it on…)

Ok, I know I said I’d stick to the list, but a couple of books have come my way and they need to be added…

1. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver

2. The Samurai’s Garden – Gail Tsukiyama

3. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms – Gail Tsukiyama

4. The Dressmaker – Elizabeth Birkelund Overbeck

5. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

Although I’ve read Toole’s masterpiece before, it has been over 10 years since I read it and I found a ragged copy in my bookshelf the other day. They way it fell off the top shelf when I was tidying was an indication that it had grown tired of just sitting there letting other works of fiction pass it by and decided to do something about it. Well, having obtained my attention, I feel it deserves it’s due perusal having gone through so much effort to once again see the light of day. I promise, however, that this time it will not settle back into its place on the shelf once I have read it. I’ll pass it along, leave it on a bench in the middle of the Royal Gardens or on the bus on the way to work. Someone else should have the chance to read this marvelous farce. So, to whomever eventually adopts this book, enjoy! 

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