Rumble Tumble stumble

November 23, 2011

This guy Leonard knew sold cold guns was named Haskel Ward.

Did this line wrongfoot you? More than once?

It’s a great example of a garden path sentence, and one with multiple paths. It appears at the beginning of chapter 7 in Joe R. Lansdale’s novel Rumble Tumble, which I’m reading at the moment.

It boils down to “This guy was named X.” Inserting a relative pronoun or two —

This guy [who] Leonard knew [who] sold cold guns was named Haskel Ward.

— clarifies the syntax, but robs the line of its charm and of the narrator’s distinctive voice.

Grammatically what this is is a subject contact clause. As my shows shows, these are quite common in Irish English and also some US dialects.

Dinosaur Comics, 25 November 2003

(If you’re a regular visitor here, you might remember seeing Rumble Tumble in this bookmash, where I found another use for its rhyming reduplication.)


Bookmash: Dead Voices Reading

June 1, 2011

A new bookmash:

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Dead Voices Reading

All the dead voices
Reading in the dark,
Stories of five decades rumble
Tumble in search of memory
Up the line to death.
Almost there.

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And an old one (well, from last November):

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The News from Ireland

A night to remember
The news from Ireland;
Something under the bed is drooling.

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These two bring the bookmash count to 10. Nos. 1–8 are here.

Thanks to the authors: Declan Hughes, Seamus Deane, Hermann Hesse, Joe R. Lansdale, Eric R. Kandel, the war poets, and Nuala O’Faolain (Dead Voices Reading); Walter Lord, William Trevor, and Bill Watterson (The News from Ireland); and thanks also to artist Nina Katchadourian, whose series of Sorted Books got me started.