Too Many Commas. Still A Great Read.

I’m diggin’ the ascot

I’m reading a fascinating book now. West With The Night by Beryl Markham. The woman was a bush pilot in Africa and the first person to make a solo flight across the Atlantic from east to west in 1936. Inspite of the fact that the title the dust jacket cover and her own self-description identify her as a pilot it’s the scenes from her colonial childhood in Kenya that make this riveting reading.

Get this:

Buller was my accomplice in everything. He was a past-master at stealth and at more other things than any dog I’ve ever owned. His loyalty to me was undeviating, but I could never think of him as being a sentimental dog, a dog fit for a pretty story of the kind that tears the heartstrings off their pegs;  he was too rough, too tough, and too aggressive.

He was bull terrier and English sheep dog, thoroughly mixed, and turned out not to look very much like either. His jaw protruded, though, and his muscles were hard and ropy like the ones on the fantastic coursing dogs in the stone friezes of ancient Persia.

He was cynical towards life, and his black and white hide bore, in a cryptology of long, short, and semicircular scars, the history of his fighting career. He fought everything that needed to be fought, and when there was nothing immediately available in this category, he killed cats.

She’s a 12 year old kid out on a boar hunt with a few native hunters and her beloved old dog:

I need neither breath or muscle to cover the few hundred yards to the thorn tree. I am suddenly there, under its branches, standing in a welter of blood. The warthog, as large as any I have seen, six times as large as Buller, sits exhausted on his haunches while the dog rips at its belly.

The old boar see me, another enemy, and charges once more with magnificent courage, and I sidestep and plunge my spear to his heart. He falls forward, scraping the earth with his great tusks, and lies still. I leave the spear in his body, turn to Buller, and feel tears starting to my eyes.

The dog is torn open like a slaughtered sheep. His right side is a valley of exposed flesh from the root of his tail to his head, and his ribs show almost white, like the fingers of a hand smeared with blood. He looks at the warthog, then at me beside him on my knees, and lets his head fall into my arms. 

The dog survives but the effect of copying these two passages might have a terminal effect on my project to write without commas.


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