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:



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.


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



The News from Ireland

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


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.