The Woeful Wayfarer

Travelling through all these one-horse towns, I realise that I have become a character in the kind of books I like. I am the lonely wayfarer waking Innkeepers up. I am the stagecoach passenger on missions undivulged. With my bill picked up by the largest employer in town, interest in my purpose is sharp but displaced into inquisitive welcomes. Some commotion attends my arrival. Verily, aprons are smoothed, doors flung open, eggs and meat slapped into pans, rooms shown (‘the best view, sir’, or even better, ‘the usual spot Mr. Heinrich?’). My bags are carried and if I resist I’m escorted up stairs and down passages by blokes with flailing arms and sidelong shuftis. During my stray, in all the accents of this land, amenities of every kind are availed and it’s insisted I make known those unpredicted whims which would enhance my comfort. Such fussing is accomplished with reserve, however. Cordiality seldom strays into …

Suspending Disbelief in the Age of Digital Wonders

On the TV in my landlady’s lounge, I saw a handsome cop in a car. He radioed his partner back at HQ to let his wife know he’d be late for dinner. ‘That’s rude,’ I mumbled, ‘… text her yourself.’ The shot widened and, from the shape of the car, I saw it was the 1970s. My landlady snorted. “OK then,” said I, placing the rent money on a table. She pointed the remote and the volume went up as I edged out the door. Narrative depends on the suspension of disbelief. Authors want readers immersed in their story, caring about the characters as if they were real. Plot details that jar or provoke wisecracks are simply no good.