Thursday, 3 July 2008

Dirty in the right places

I'm currently re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird. And was just brought to a halt by the following:
Atticus left us on the porch. Jem leaned on a pillar, rubbing his shoulders against it.

'Do you itch, Jem?' I asked as politely as I could. He did not answer. 'Come on in, Jem,' I said.

'After while.'

He stood there until nightfall, and I waited for him. When we went in the house I saw he had been crying; his face was dirty in the right places, but I thought it odd that I had not heard him.
This is an absolutely brilliant piece of writing. As I read, I am reminded just how well Harper Lee - without even an ounce of sentimentalism - deals with these simultaneously weighty and insubstantial episodes - charting her protagonist's transition from childhood. How incredibly well her economical, unpretentious prose frames this all.

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