Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Fall Paperback

Today's fifty pence purchase was this fantastic 1961 Faber paperback edition of William Golding's Free Fall. There was something so attractive about the cover, which is uncredited as far as I can see, that meant it had to be mine. It also has what I consider to be the best opening paragraph of any book I have ever read. It is concise, elegant, slightly mysterious but perfectly comprehensible, balanced in every sentence, a marvelous combination of the mundane and the mystical and quite simply a beautiful piece of writing. Those of you who have been subjected to any quantity of my own fiction will now realise that my occasional enjoyment of the battered and splayed paperback as an image derives from here.

"I have walked by stalls in the market-place where books, dog-eared and faded from their purple, have burst with a white hosanna. I have seen people crowned with a double crown, holding in either hand the crook and the flail, the power and the glory. I have understood how the scar becomes a star, I have felt the flake of fire fall, miraculous and pentecostal. my yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are grey faces that peer over my shoulder. I live on Paradise Hill, ten minutes from the shops and local. Yet I am a burning amateur, torn by the irrational and incoherent, violently searching and self-condemned."

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