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 Fahreheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I was watching a movie called The Bookshop. It’s set in a little town in England in 1959. A lady sets up a bookshop in a town where the lady of the manor would prefer an arts centre. But there’s also a recluse on the hill played by Bill Nighy. He requests a book delivery and is sent poetry and Fahrenheit 451. I had taken a few moments during the break to pick a book for Paratalk or Torque? I’d picked up a collection of Ray Bradbury from my bookshelf. I figured I might find a suitable paragraph in one of these. Having seen Fahreheit 451 in the movie I took the plunge and opened to this book. The paragraph is as follows:

‘It’s been a long time. I’m not a religious man. but it’s been a long time.’ Faber turned the pages, stopping here and there to read. It’s as good as I remember. Lord, how they’ve changed it in our “parlors” these days. Christ is one of the “family” now. I wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He’s a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.’ Faber sniffed the book. ‘Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land? I loved to smell them when I was a boy. Lord, there were a lot of lovely books once, before we let them go.’ Faber turned the pages. ‘Mr Montag, you are looking at a coward. I saw the way things were going, a long time back. I said nothing. I’m one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the “guilty”, but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself. And when finally they set the structure to burn the books, using the firemen, I grunted a few times and subsided, for there were no others grunting or yelling with me, by then. Now it’s too late.’ Faber closed the Bible. ‘Well – suppose you tell me why you came here?’

It’s a long paragraph, but I felt this would be easier than a one line paragraph. There’s generally much more in more words than fewer…unless it’s a short story.

I wanted to talk about the choice of names. We’ve got Montag and Faber. Montag is German for Monday and Faber is a publishing company that’s been around since 1929. I’m sure there’s absolute deliberation in both of these names, but Montag is eluding me, maybe if I read the book again I might figure it out.

One of the things I love about this book is how the characters talk about Christ. There seems to be a large distance between what is in the Bible about him and what some people say. And that’s exactly what Faber is saying. ‘Love thy neighbour’ is rarely honoured by some Christians. I know some Christians who honour the words. It’s interesting to see this detailed rather nicely in this book.

Faber is also one of those people who tried to speak up, but couldn’t do it by himself. It’s hard to be the one person speaking up for what is right, much easier when you’ve got someone by your side saying the same things.

The last thing I want to talk about is differences in spelling. I almost picked up a style guide tonight for my paragraph. I was thinking there might be a lot to say about a paragraph in a style guide, but I took the extra few steps and found Ray Bradbury instead. I’m looking at three words: parlor, worshiper and recognizes. I would spell each of these words differently and that’s because I use English spelling rather than American. I would put the ‘u’ in parlour, a double ‘p’ in worshipper and replace a letter for recognises. And that’s where a style guide is great. Because you can look at the style guide of the publisher and know how they want you to spell certain words, or whether to use single quotation marks or double quotation marks. Every company should have a style guide, it should include when you use digits for numbers rather than whole words and how the date is written. The style guide for my blog isn’t written down, but then I’m the main writer and I don’t need to tell other people how things should look.

I’m sure there’s more I’m missing, but that’s enough for tonight. I’ve done swearing at my keyboard. The letter ‘n’ is playing up and I have to hit it several times for it to actually show up on my screen. I’m being grateful it’s not the letter ‘e’, the most used letter of the alphabet. For a change the link I’m giving you here is for a number of books. It shows Fahrenheit 451 and the SparkNotes. This book needs a lot of unpacking and I’m wondering if the SparkNotes would be a useful addition to my bookshelf.

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