Reading the Water

Robert Macfarlane’s excellent The Old Ways recently steered us anew to a favorite passage from Mark Twain’s Life On the Mississippi:

MT1

If he were piloting the world’s rivers today, Twain (for whom we have a special affection here at DP) might find that reading the face of the water has become ever grimmer, and ever more dead-earnest:

ALPHABET SOUP

ALPHABET SOUP

Sometimes, the truth of the book is only divulged in the epilogue:

deadfishlagoon

HYPERTEXTUAL LAGOON

Very often, one must also pay special attention to editorial annotations scribbled along the edges of the text:

DELETED FIGURE

CRITICAL EXEGESIS

Among the plastic bits and bobs discovered inside the dead whale: a clothes hangar, an ice cream tub and two small flower pots. Such a diet makes for grim narrative flow.

TOXIC NARRATIVE GYRE

TOXIC PLOT


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