Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fiction Thursday: The Paris Bloke

This week I was going to choose a story start written in third person, since the last story I shared was written in first person. But, the third person starts I have feel a little heavier than I'm wanting to delve into this morning, so here's another first person start. This one is written from a male point of view, which is unusual for me (and, perhaps, one of the reasons I'm struggling with the piece). That's all I'm going to say until the end.

I don't know why more people don't spend the holidays in Paris. Forget the twinkle lights, which are more trouble than they're worth, that you forget to plug in, to test, before hanging, ultimately hanging a dud string, which means another trip to the roof to take them down, and another, if you're real adventurous, to hang a new string. Forget the fruitcake, with its inconsistent consistency, that your Aunt Bernie requests you bring each year, that you'd rather not partake of, but someone must, since Doan's Bakery sells 5000 a year. Forget waiting in line to buy gifts, which undoubtedly, will be the wrong size or color (or a bad idea altogether), leading the recipient to stand in line the next week to return them.

Simply, forget it. Renew your passport and go to Paris, instead. That is where I spent my holiday season, roaming the corridors of the Louvre, except on Tuesdays and Christmas, when it was closed. I began on the first floor examining Egyptian antiquities, artifacts created by people who lived 4000 years ago, in civilizations that cropped up along the Nile. The exhibit included a scribe's instruments, a spoon, a dagger, and jugs, cracked and broken, pieced together by museum curators. I walked among the artifacts but did not stay long. I did not want to be among broken objects, once useful, now useless, their cracked pieces (both visible and invisible) glued together by unfamiliar hands and deemed "restored."

I prefer paintings. I like the covering they provide to a dull wall. I prefer portraits, like the Mona Lisa, encased in glass to keep the fragile poplar canvas from breaking. The Mona Lisa is also on the first floor, beyond the large-format paintings, paintings of men battling, building new empires, breaking ground to tame the land, these being the sorts of measures men will go to to impress ladies, make them smile.

I passed through this gallery nearly every day, at least every day the museum was open, to view the Mona Lisa, stand and look at her face, constructed of layers of accumulated oil. Da Vinci added turpentine, weak turpentine, to the oils used to paint her, creating oils that were almost transparent, so he could add layer upon layer, endlessly remodeling her face. And, suppose Da Vinci had disturbed one layer of the woman, he could cover his mistake, create a new layer with fresh paint. He did not need to speak with counselors and (when they failed) lawyers, and sign papers. He had weak turpentine.

So there you have it. For those of you wondering, this piece was an emulation of Michael Chabon's "Along the Frontage Road." "Along the Frontage Road" seems to have sentences with an excessive number of dependent clauses. My theory (and my apologies to Chabon if this is not the case) is that the clauses are the narrator's attempt to create a diversion and put off talking about the "real" story. They also seem to act as filler, as if the narrator is trying to pad himself with dependent clauses to make up for the loss he feels.

As for my character, I have no idea where this guy is going - if he's even back from Paris yet. All I know is that some girl really did a number on this bloke. Unfortunately, he seems willing to talk about anything but what happened. Pesky men who hide their feelings. Has he filled any of you in?

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