Autumn (2016), like all of Ali Smith’s novels (I’m guessing – I’ve only read a few so far), is a delight in linguistic and other ways. This post features a few excerpts that focus on language in one way or another.
The main character, Elisabeth, is visiting her old friend Daniel in a care home. Daniel is asleep. A care assistant talks to her:
A very nice polite gentleman. We miss him now. Increased sleep period. It happens when things are becoming more (slight pause before she says it) final.
The pauses are a precise language, more a language than actual language is, Elisabeth thinks.
I like how the writing itself conveys the particular pause in speech before the word final. Smith could have used dashes or described the pause in a subsequent clause or sentence, but the parenthesis, unexpected, feels just right.