Sunday, November 24, 2013
Jules Older explains why it’s so annoying to live in San Francisco.............
My friend Al was introducing me to his colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle. “Jules, this is Annika; like you, another San Francisco transplant.”
“Annika,” I said, “What's the most annoying thing about San Francisco?”
Enigmatic Swedish smile. “Why don't you tell me.”
“The most annoying thing about San Francisco is the level of brilliance here. How can I compete with so much smart?”
She knew just what I meant, and so will you when you read Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, who lives next door in Berkeley.
When I read the first ten pages, I muttered to Effin, “He’s showing off.”
After 50, I changed it to, “He's showing off, but he has a lot to show off.”
At 100: “Jesus. It’s Bonfire of the Vanities moved to Berkeley, set to a jazz beat and trebled down on word play.”
Trebled down? One sentence. Not a paragraph, not a page, not even a chapter, but an entire section is composed of one. bloody. sentence. And it works.
Here are some shorter examples:
“Walter broke off a piece of a smile and tucked it into his left cheek as if reserving it for future use.”
“He addressed the class... in a soft, stupefied, increasingly breathless tone like an astronaut pleading with a mad supercomputer to open an airlock.”
“Vulgar language," Chan said... "Always the first and last refuge of the man with nothing to say.”
And this: “Her hair was a glory of tendrils for the snaring of husbands.”
See why it’s so annoying to live in San Francisco? If I practiced my craft for the next thousand years, I could never come up with “a glory of tendrils for the snaring of husbands.”