Monday, 21 November 2011

Babylon Revisited in haiku building blocks

Inspired by an email from blogger Jim Murdoch at The Truth About Lies, I wondered if Babylon Revisited, the F. Scott Fitzgerald booklet of three short stories (free with The Daily Telegraph) would provide a stimulating haiku or two for my amusement. Or maybe three. In the event it was five. So I thought I'd share them with you.

My eyes almost glazed over when I saw the final paragraph of the final story of the three, The Lost Decade. There, at first glance, was a gem to be found.

then he reached out
his thumb against the granite
the building by his side

I then turned to the middle story, The Cut Glass Bowl. Fitzgerald, as we know, can round a circle. Even two circles simultaneously. Sure signs of a good writer.

a rough stone age
and a smooth stone age
and a cut-glass age

bonbon dishes
and after the wedding
the punch-bowls

The struggle for existence is one of the important themes here. If we went on in similar vein we would eventually come to the toothbrush holder and the other shabby genteels on the bathroom shelf. And these we could also use to good effect to reflect and describe the way that our protagonist's life is unfolding; and that is in the manner that Fitzgerald's character Mrs Roger Fairboalt describes as quite artistic.

In the title story Babylon Revisited once we get past the initial exchange of trivia between Charlie and Mr Wales, we can select and adapt a block of text that is equally quite artistic or even, dare I say it, strangely poetic.

Strangely also, the absent waiter is called Paul. But that's another story.

stillness in the Ritz bar
a single pair of eyes fluttering up
from a newspaper

And at the end, 34 pages later, we may round off the tale in appropriate manner.

no more he said
the whisky glass empty
not young anymore

When you have a few minutes to spare why not choose a favourite book and try the exercise for yourself? You may even find it stimulating.

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