Monday, 25 June 2012

A tree is just a tree

It's almost as difficult to write about nature as it is to write about sex. One person's sexy is another's disturbing. Or dull. Or saccharine. Or ridiculous. I like Michael Ondaatje's writing, but some of his descriptions of sex just make me feel his pain. Like this one from The English Patient: "Their bodies had met in perfumes, in sweat, frantic to get under that thin film with a tongue or a tooth, as if they each could grip character there and during love pull it right off the body of the other."

It's the words that are the trouble. Cloying or crude, there seems to be no middle ground. Descriptions of nature, too, seem to veer too easily to cliche. The moon is always a pale wafer, trees are towering, rain slants, sun beats and sand sifts. It's tough to capture it without resorting to verbal acrobatics that call too much attention to the writing.

1 comment:

  1. Just look at that tree! Wow. You look tinier than ever.