Wednesday, June 24, 2009
How To Hook a Reader
"Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It is a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and wilfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you'll believe a word of it.
"Yet I cannot be held wholly accountable for its failings. I have good reason for presenting you with so sensational and unlikely an account.
"It is all true. Every word of what follows actually happened, and I am merely the journalist, the humble Boswell, who has set it down. You'll have realised by now that I am new to this business of storytelling, that I lack the skill of an expert, that I am without any ability to enthral the reader, to beguile with narrative tricks or charm with sleight of hand.
"But I can promise you three things: to relate events in their neatest and most appropriate order; to omit nothing I consider significant; and to be a sfrank and free with you as I am able.
"I must ask you in return to show some little understanding for a man come late in life to tale-telling, an artless dilettante who, on dipping his toes into the shallows of a story, hopes only that he will not needlessly embarrass himself.
"One final thing, one final warning: in the spirit of fair play, I ought to admit that I shall have reason to tell you more than one direct lie.
"What, then, should you believe? How will you distinguish truth from fiction?
"Naturally, I leave that to your discretion.
The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes