kenyon ledford

                           Writing that Shreds

Late middle age, he was coming to understand, was a time of life when everything was predictable and yet somehow you fail to see any of it coming.

Richard Russo: "That Old Cape Magic"

For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blankets between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.

Herman Melville: Moby Dick

Lurching across the deserted planks of the Brass Bridge were dead drunk assassins and the men behind them were bent on inserting the significant comma.

Terry Pratchett: "Pyramids" 

Ghosts could walk freely tonight, without fear of the disbelief of men; for this night was haunted, and it would be an insensitive man who did not know it.

John Steinbeck: "Tortilla Flat"

If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

Sterling Hayden: "Wanderer"

With its flat roof and squeezed windows, the house looked like a constipated man crouched back in the trees.

James Lee Burke: "Last Car to Elysian Fields" 

And out of all the sweat and swearing and mathematics had come this...thing, dropping words across the world as softly as starlight. 

Terry Pratchett: "Going Postal"


...this too he had lost (along with his mind), so he could no longer live on trains or in refreshment rooms in railway stations. Murlidharan had no home, no doors to lock, but he had his old keys tied carefully around his waist. In a shining bunch. His mind was full of cupboards, cluttered with secret pleasures.

Arundhati Roy: "The God of Small Things."


And the river was a vein of blood under the sun.

Jeff Noon: "Vurt" 

(In describing the schooner)

Two more cabins now, across the narrow passage, facing each other with the averted eyes of closed doors.

Sterling Hayden: "Wanderer"



When the railroad trains moaned, and river winds blew, bringing echoes through the vale, it was as if a wild hum of voices, the dear voices of everybody he had known, were crying, 'Peter, Peter! Where are you going, Peter?' And a big, soft gust of rain came down.

Jack Kerouac: "The Town and the City"


The most unfortunate invalids on earth came in search of health; a poor woman who since childhood had been counting her heart beats and had run out of numbers; a Portuguese man who couldn't sleep because the noise of the stars disturbed him; a sleepwalker who got up at night to undo the things he had done while awake.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings"


"Responded, replied, intoned. The words ye were looking for when ye got lost in your thesaurus, I believe, were, said, said, and, said."

James Delingpole: "Fish Show" 


My best friend tells me I have the sophistication of a junkyard falling down a staircase.

James Lee Burke: "The Glass Rainbow" 

It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage.  It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves forever and ever, and never got uncoiled. 

It had a black canal it it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. 

It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like on another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and tomorrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next.

Charles Dickens, describing, "Coketown," from, "Hard Times" 

The two men had a conversation. Brief, cryptic, to the point. As though they had exchanged numbers and not words. No explanations seemed necessary. They were not friends, Comrade Pillai and Inspector Thomas Mathew, and they didn't trust each other. But they understood each other perfectly. 

They were both men whom childhood had abandoned without a trace. Men without curiosity. Without doubt. Both in their own way truly, terrifyingly adult. They looked at the world and never wondered how it worked, because they knew. They worked it. They were mechanics who serviced different parts of the same machine.

Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things


The thunderheads stacked up, huge flatboats black on the bottom and bruise-purple through the middle. Every now and then lightning would flash inside them, and then they looked like brains filled with bad ideas.

Stephen King: "Duma Key"

As if an astronomical observatory should be made without any windows, and the astronomer within should arrange the starry universe soley by pen, ink, and paper, so Mr. Gradgrind, in his Observatory...had no need to cast an eye upon the teeming myriads of human beings around him, but could settle all their destinies on a slate, and wipe out all their tears with one dirty little bit of sponge.

Charles Dickens: Hard Times


To this Observatory, then--a stern room, with a deadly statistical clock in it, which measured every second with a beat like a rap upon a coffin lid.

Charles Dickens: "Hard Times" 


If I was seldom truthful with my mother, it must be said that she was seldom truthful with me either, though back then our most blatant lies took the shape of silences.

Richard Russo: "Risk Pool"