Monday, June 18, 2007

Colin Watson knew his shit ...

... which is why he never wrote a sentence like this one. As in his fourth Flaxborough novel, Lonelyheart 4122, so in his twelfth and last, Whatever's Been Going on at Mumblesby? In both, Watson uses curse and coarse words sparingly but to great effect.

His curse words were not meaningless interjections, all-purpose intensifiers or serve-all synonyms, the way such words often are today. Rather, set as they are against something very much like the traditional English mystery-story village, they regain their old ability to shock (and I'll update this post with examples later).

To be sure, the curses are more intense in the later book, published in 1982, fifteen years after the earlier one. Curse words were for Watson indicators of changing times, another indicator of the skill with which he wielded them.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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