Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Shrimp Fishers

Part of writing a novel -- one of the most important parts of writing a novel -- is cutting out extraneous material. Sentences, paragraphs and scenes which, while perfectly fine, no longer fit the narrative as it evolves. The novel I'm presently working on is somewhat different in form, subject and angle of attack than its predecessors and has accumulated a considerable amount of this 'below the line' material. False starts, diversions, an entire secondary storyline that grew like kudzu vine and threatened to overwhelm the main structure. The piece below is one of the diversions. A puzzle-piece left over after the picture was completed.

It was something he’d found in the wreckage of the internet. A silent film clip from the early days of cinema, no more than 45 seconds long. Enfants pêchant des crevettes. Seventeen metres of 35mm film hand-cranked through one of the Lumière Brothers’ cameras. He’d been watching it over and again recently. Summer, 1896. Getting on for two centuries ago. An English beach in Kent or Sussex. Possibly Margate. There was a colourised version, but he preferred the original black and white, muting the whimsical music someone had added. Forty-five or 46 seconds of activity. Children in antique costume dragging long-handled shrimping nets through a shallow channel of seawater, a donkey cart in the background moving off, passing a small group of onlookers, the scene abruptly cutting when the spool of film in the camera ran out. And he’d tell his agent to play it again, the light of the lost world flickering on his face, throwing shadows across the ceiling of the narrowboat’s cabin.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts