Paratalk or Torque?

Suzie Eisfelder

Paratalk or Torque is where I take a paragraph, mostly at random, and talk about it however I wish. It’s an old column I’ve revived. It has fairly broad scope and could go on for ages. Let me know if you get bored, I may not listen though. 

Today’s paragraph is from Echolalia by Briohny Doyle.

His mum didn’t come to dinner anymore. Bob had helped her buy a unit on the Great Ocean Road. She’d adopted a schoodle, did yoga five days a week, made stupid comments about Gaia. The drive was too much for her now, she claimed, though she was Pat’s younger sister by four years. So Emma had taken her place in the scene, saying little while she anxiously policed other people’s conversations, marshalling the space with her children.

I found this paragraph quite revealing for character reasons. It shows Doyle has put a lot of thought into each character. Doyle was one of my lecturers at uni, one of the top three best. One of the things she taught me at uni is to create a sheet for each character. In this sheet we were given twenty questions to answer about a character. These could be general or very specific questions. And reading through this book the other month I felt she might have done that exercise for her main characters. She might not have used the information in the book, but I did get the impression that this information coloured her thinking while she wrote. Once I’ve done more research I’ll be trying to do this for the characters in one of my books. Reading this paragraph makes me feel it will help me to ask the questions I need to inform my research.

I love how Doyle has casually dropped some information about the mother into this paragraph. It gives us setting for her, the Great Ocean Road. It gives us a sense of who she is, she adopts a schnoodle and does yoga. A little googling tells me that schnoodles are high maintenance and very intelligent. That could help to inform some of her movements in the book as she needs to look after the dog.

Along with the setting of the Great Ocean Road comes a sense of distance. For some people that distance is easily overcome, but for others any distance makes contact much more challenging, and this can be just an excuse not to visit. The last seems more correct here. I could reread the book in its entirety and find out, but I won’t do that just now…I really need sleep.

Not a lot of words tonight. The paragraph contains no errors for me to pounce on, no negatives I can expound on at length. So I’m taking a few words to suggest you click on this link to look at the book. It’s worth more than a click, but I’m enjoying every time someone clicks through.

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