Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



Characters from a bad novel

Go to Otherwise and play around in the archives.

For several weeks she and her brother–she, a 55-year-old woman with a bad right kidney and strangling liver and arthritis in her wrists and thumbs, and brother, a 40-year-old 95-pound retarded man with alopecia and a worrisome white count–had struggled to pack up and carry away the contents of her out-of-business bookshop. They were hindered by her increasing feebleness. Brother could go on forever, it seemed, and laugh and feel proud, but he ought not to go on, and she knew it, and she couldn’t let him. She pushed herself and accomplished a lot the first week and then paid for it in days of prostration. There weren’t enough boxes. She had a couple of friends who were willing to assist, they said, but she felt they were already overworked doing the chores that filled their own lives. In past moves she had hired helpers, but there was no money this time. So the deadline for vacating the premises came and went and still she and her brother kept on, as though retrieving boxes, filling them, stacking them, trucking them away to stack them again, hauling shelves up stairs or dragging them into other shops’ back rooms was what their lives were all about and always had been and always would be.

Sam Mills is my favourite writer on the internet, consistently good and never less than interesting. She has a developed sense of the rhythms of language and whenever I see (from my feeds) that she has posted something new I drop whatever it was I was going to do and go straight to her blog to take a close look.

One Response to “Characters from a bad novel”

  1. Dick says:

    Absolutely with you about Sam. I’ve been linked to her since 2003 and the consistency is frightening, even when she is sharing the most domestic and workaday of information.