Jesse Jarnow

under the jaguar sun

It is worth noting, perhaps, that Microsoft Word’s spellcheck assesses the following beautiful passage of Italo Calvino as being written 60% in the passive voice:

As we reentered the hotel and headed for the large lobby (the former chapel of the convent), which we had to cross to reach the wing where our room was, we were struck by a sound like a cascade of water flowing and splashing and gurgling in a thousand rivulets and eddies and jets. The closer we got, the more this homogeneous noise was broken down into a complex of chirps, trills, caws, clucks, as of a flock of birds flapping their wings in an aviary. From the doorway (the room was a few steps lower than the corridor) we saw an expanse of little spring hats on the heads of ladies seated around tea tables. Throughout the country a campaign was in progress for the election of a new president of the republic, and the wife of the favored candidate was giving a tea party of impressive proportions for the wives of the prominent men of Oaxaca. Under the broad, empty vaulted ceiling, three hundred Mexican ladies were conversing all at once; the spectacular acoustical event that had immediately subdued us was produced by their voices mingled with the tinkling of cups and spoons and of knives cutting slices of cake.

1 Comment

  1. Randy Ray says: - reply

    A struggle but, obviously, it pays off for some writers–all of those sentences which begin with their poetic “Usually” and “As we entered” and “From the…” just sound right and read like water sliding down a rock formation. Sweet passage. Sort of like the filmmakers Bergman and Antononi who we lost a couple days ago, splitting the atom one stroke at a time, while defying gravity.