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Monday, September 9, 2019

Being Purposeful With Adjectives


I'm fast approaching the end of my one year resolution to read only authors new to me. Have any of you readers ever tried something like this for any period of time? Though it's been a bit harder than I anticipated, the joy I've derived discovering talented authors has made it worthwhile.

In his confident debut novel We Begin Our Ascent (2018), Joe Mongo Reid ushered me into the world of competitive cycling. The grueling rigor and moral compromises of cyclists competing in the Tour De France are framed by a wholly believable story of a young couple who are new parents trying to find their way. Reid's understated, muscular prose ably supports his solid narrative. I knew from the start this author would not disappoint.

"He gives an unsteady laugh, a laugh that suggests he is on the edge of some other emotion."

"I have worried about Liz being beguiled by Rafael, by his claustrophobic certainty..."

"We have given ourselves over to him, Liz and I, to this look of mild amusement at our plight." 

Each of those sentences reveal Reid's sure hand via his adjectives - unsteady, claustrophobic, mild. I have lost count how many books I've read with overcooked adjectives calling attention to themselves in bad sentences.

" ' So, here we are', she says". Using six one syllable words, the novel ambiguously concludes its tale, the elegance of those simple words meshing perfectly with the tone Reid established on page one.

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