Good Writing

Sunnyvale Alley
I cleaned out my bookshelf, dusted off some old books I have kept around but haven’t read. Namely, Howards End (no apostrophe, just discovered that).

I really enjoy the website GoodReads, and hope Annaboka will someday be as useful. One of the reviews on there of Howard’s End lauds the third chapter as the best chapter ever written. I found the best paragraph ever written last night. After being splogged, it makes me think, what inspires me?

Background: Mr. Wilcox, the business tycoon, is showing Margaret, the emancipated London-dweller, around his house in town, that she may or may not rent.

They entered the drawing-room. Chelsea managed better here. It was sallow and ineffective. One could visualize the ladies withdrawing to it while their lords discussed life’s realities below, to the accompaniment of their cigars. Had Mrs. Wilcox’s drawing-room looked thus at Howards End? Just as this thought entered Margaret’s brain, Mr. Wilcox did ask her to be his wife, and the knowledge that she had been right so overcame her that she nearly fainted.

I think I re-read it several times last night. It has a abruptness, and an overtone of sarcasm, that is just masterful. The sarcasm of “… lords discussed life’s realities,” the “sallow and ineffective” personality of a room, and in contrast to Chelsea the neighborhood- she has fixated on neighborhoods in London in her search for a house- and the everpresence of the former Mrs. Wilcox, who she had befriended. On top of this is the lie that Mr. Wilcox is concealing, that his former wife bequeathed Howards End to her (he ripped up/burned the will). The best, best, bestest part is Margaret’s swooning- not at the expression of love- but that she was right. Brilliant.

On the picture: My mother had a typesetting business on this alleyway from around 75-88. I spent a lot of time here, running around downtown Sunnyvale, during the summers. It’s gone from boom to bust. When she rented this shop, it was formerly a hair salon, and voila, it is again today.

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