Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Nods and winks

Share |

I was going to write a short note about style... but then I thought, No - I will keep any discussion of actual texts, actual writers for another time. Instead, I've gone back to my notebooks so that I can pass on something I wrote down several years ago...

There is a style that seeks to appear weighty, learned, refined... and above all, serious. At its worst, you find this style in the learned and scholarly journals. It is easy enough to heap scorn on such a style... all you have to do is quote it. More useful is to locate the thought that the learned pretentious man or woman was reaching for and then to restate it in the plain, pithy way of common speech, common wisdom, speech honed to a kind of folk poetry over the years.

So, example one: "Ornithological species of identical plumage habitually congregate in the closest possible proximity."
Corrective one: " Birds of a feather flock together."

Example two: "An inflection of the optic covering is the equivalent of the tilt of the cranium to a quadruped devoid of the visionary senses."
Corrective two: " A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse."

Do I make my point? Of course I do. Do you and I, dear reader, agree? Do we think alike? Of course we do. The case is too persuasive. But a cautionary note. Remember that other wise, pithy saying: " Great minds think alike, fools seldom differ." Debate is never a done turkey.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Barry Callaghan

Barry Callaghan is an award-winning author, poet, editor and publisher. He is one of Canada’s most preeminent men of letters. His most recent collection of short stories, Between Trains, was published by McArthur & Company in 2007.

Go to Barry Callaghan’s Author Page