Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I would like to announce this giveaway open to my readers in the US, Canada, the UK, and Romania that are Goodreads members:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Simon and Hiroko by Marius Hancu

Simon and Hiroko

by Marius Hancu

Giveaway ends January 01, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What are the rules on tense mixing in fiction writing?


- in a sea of  simple past tense: the time pipelines leading to it should be in past perfect; the remote events should be in past perfect or simple past

- in a sea of  present narrative tense: the time pipelines leading to it should be in present perfect; the remote events should be in simple past

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your exceptions!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Em-dashes in Speech Tag in Elmore Leonard

I thought some of you might be interested seeing this speech tag implemented with two em-dashes and a non-finite verb (the ing-form "raising"). 

[Dawn gives Joyce a "reading"]

Dawn said, “Let’s see,” and turned over three more cards. “The Knight of Pentacles, the Seven of Pentacles, andraising her eyebrows—the Knight of Swords. Okay, you have to understand I’m reading from vibrations, too. When I access your higher self I’m no longer reading the cards. If you want me to simplify this, not tell you what the cards mean… It looks like you have a choice to make, the Knight of Pentacles or the Knight of Swords. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
“Go on,” Joyce said.
Elmore Leonard,  Riding the Rap

Now, one could see it either as an elision from '—[she said], raising her eyebrows—', thus as a speech tag proper, or just as an adverbial phrase introduced by the narrator,  conditioning the speech, when the speech/dialogue verb 'said' isn't considered to be there. 

The Fashion-y Genie Bouchard: a Great New Face in the Tennis World

by Marius Hancu

We have come to watch with great pleasure the progress that Eugenie "Genie" Bouchard is making in the WTA ranks. At 19, she is seeded 30 at the current Australian Open and, at her first participation in the main draw, she has already reached the semifinals. We Canadians might be not the only ones enjoying her outdueling Ana Ivanovic, who just beat mighty Serena Williams, in the quarterfinals. Such a performance was in the realm of possible, as Bouchard had beaten Ivanovic 6-3 6-3 in their only encounter, last year at Wimbledon, but to see Bouchard achieve it in athletic, determined fashion, from one set down, was something else.
She is the first Canadian to be in the semis of a Grand Slam in 30 years (Carling Bassett-Seguso did it at the U.S. Open in 1984). Canada was definitely much better prepped to expect something like this from Milos Raonic, our leading male player (who is at #11 in the world rankings), but Bouchard was faster. Great for her - and for us, the fans, as we don't have to prolong the anxious wait.
And she is making waves in terms of great looks and tennis fashion too. One of her interviews at the Australian Open went something like this:
"Q. What is the thought process behind the clothes you're wearing for this tournament, the style?
EUGENIE BOUCHARD: The clothing? It's very fashion-y. I don't think you'd understand it. It's high waisted. I tuck in the top. Just a different look."

Surely, "fashion-y" is a great word. Let's not forget her family lives, it seems, on the same street in Westmount, a rich part of Montreal, with former Canadian PM Mulroney. Lots of high fashion there ... I can only guess.
Now, seriously, dress/fashion is an important way for them, the players, to be making their endorsement money, thus not small potatoes at all. So, perhaps you will indulge my staying a bit on this, whether you agree with my take or not.
This, for your handy reference, is an image of the famous-or-infamous dress (depending on the side of the fashion divide on which you are perked). That dress and the great serenading she gets at the Australian Open is now making the rounds on the Web. "Genie's Army," Bouchard's Aussie boisterous fans, are out in force to fete her the same way Lleyton Hewitt's "Fanatics" are celebrating his feats. They even showed up on the Rod Laver Arena when she was facing an Australian in prime time.
For me, and this is a matter of personal taste, as I said on a famous tennis forum, that skirt is overextended: yes - both too high and too low. I wondered at times how she was both able to breath and run with it on her.
Perhaps Maria Sharapova can easier wear very long, as she has other proportions, with lots of space to, say, be addressed, or covered. I am not quite sure. I think she wore it in Brisbane.
Anyway, I, for one, also dislike the color combination on that particular skirt in Bouchard's version: dark grey obliquely streaked with black. Now, that makes not the best impression with so much light in Australia - it's even against the spirit of their summer. Even Sharapova wore yesterday in the Australian Open a shorter, diaphanous, light-colored dress.
However, all this is just the way I see it and arbiter elegantiarum I am not.
Also, my bottom line is this: Well, whatever, Genie, as long as you win. And win she does. She clearly has classy lines (e.g., watch that at 0:39) and tastes. And as long her fashions come out of her own thinking, and are not something imposed/pushed by the clothing company for whatever reasons, she can wear whatever she likes. And yes, I can see her trying to wear something inspired from high-fashion - for the stuff of which that skirt is made of certainly seems that way.
With tennis and fashion mixing freely in her speech, the WTA and the ATP are fully aware of the arrival of someone capable to carry multiple banners for them in the future, and are doing well already using her as one of their poster ladies, being pictured with the greats of the game.
Now, to get to our real tennis muttons and Bouchard's game. One can immediately appreciate it is a highly spirited one, with quick redirects. "I think I just really try to take the ball early. I think that's good because it takes away time from the opponent. She has less time to guess where I'm going or try to read where I'm going," says Bouchard. She is lithe, very athletic, in the manner of Steffi Graf, and moves great. As well, she displays great energy and conviction. These will take her far. However, there is place for more, if she really wants to get among the very best.
My suggestions, as an observer of long date of this great game of ours, would be for her to incorporate more variety in her play. Let us see more slices. Wawrinka and Dimitrov, on the men's side, are able to make a very difficult life for their opponents with their slices. Also, more lobs, more dropshots, even high-topspin, down-the-line shots - she seems to favor the low-to-medium-topspin, flattish variety. Let us see her coming more to the net - she certainly has the speed and reflexes for being very effective there. This would vary the diet served to her opponents and make even more difficult the quandary in which they are when facing her. She does quite well in terms of stepping into the court though - great first step.
Also, biomechanically speaking, her shots can definitely be improved. While certainly punchy and quick, sometimes they are not powerful to the extent I assume her body could justify them to be. And they are this way because she seems to remove the long swing from her repertoire, using only a short takeback motion, which in quick-paced exchanges becomes even "snatchy" or "elbowy," as her elbow seems to be quite advanced in its motion. Now, the short takeback helps in terms of quick reaction, and in surprising the opponent by stepping into the court or your shots. However, I am going to stand on my box here and preach that one needs longer swing for maximum power for more of her shots, for more winners. And she does it quite well in her running forehands. Thus, I would work with her toward developing a smoother swing, a la Federer (her hero), for more of her shots. Certainly, she is only at the beginning of her physical development as a player, and strides on that side will help too.
Learning to hold more some of her shots, in order to go behind her opponent, to surprise in the final direction of the delivery, is also important. This is also a matter of exercised patience.
Her second serve needs to become more reliable, deeper and more varied. More of her serves should be directed into the body of her opponent. There should be more variety between the topspin and the slice serve. Also, her down-the-T delivery should become more dominant and more frequent.
The point here is to avoid the fate of Caroline Wozniacki, a perennial What's-That-Battery-Make Bunny, who with all her success (nothing to sneeze at), has not been able to win any Grand Slam tournaments for lack of finishing shots. Also, to extend her career to the maximum, by playing shorter rallies. And I think the point was made to her by Li Na in the semifinals in terms of being able to generate vastly more winners (three times more, to be exact).
On the mental side, I think she does very well. It is really a pleasure to see how composed she is, at only 19, and how quickly she recovers her compass after high-paced exchanges. Overcoming Casey Dellacqua on the latter's home court, the hallowed Rod Laver Arena, after losing the first set, and in a categorical manner at the end, scoring the bagel, was quite remarkable.
Well, tennis and fashion fans alike, fasten your belts, for you are in for a great ride with Genie Bouchard.
Marius Hancu is also the author of Saluting a More Complete Milos Raonic, published at Yahoo. 

He is a novelist based in Montreal, Canada, and the author of the literary novels Simon and Hiroko and Our Lives as Kites (Amazon, Kobo). He has been following great tennis players for several decades. He has more tennis forum posts than he likes to remember, focusing on technique, competition, and health and conditioning. He is also a great ballet lover.

His collection of links Great Fitness Sites on the Tennis Talk forum (at Tennis Warehouse), dealing with tennis (and general sports) conditioning and ailments is, he likes to think, very appreciated. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

While reading the script of this celebrated movie:

                You have such a pretty, long neck,
                like a swan.

                Grandmama Pace had a long, smooth
                white neck.  It was like on a
                statue it was so white?

David Lynch, Wild at Heart (script)

I found that many of Lula's sentences end with an unexpected (for me) question mark. 
Peter T. Daniels and Jerry Friedman of alt.usage.english newsgroup of Usenet kindly  pointed to me this is "uptalk."

Is any of you using it in your writing? Just curious:-)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Change of person and POV in Murakami

Someone is asking in a literary forum for an example of a change of POV in the writing of a noted writer.
Well, here is a remarkable, IMHO, change of person and POV in the work of Haruki Murakami:


"What are you thinking about?" Miss Saeki asks me.
"About going to Spain," I reply.
"What are you going to do there?"
"Eat some delicious paella."
"That's all?"
"And fight in the Spanish Civil War."
"That ended over sixty years ago."
"I know," I tell her. "Lorca died, and Hemingway survived."
"But you want to be a part of it."
I nod. "Yup. Blow up bridges and stuff."
"And fall in love with Ingrid Bergman."
"But in reality I'm here in Takamatsu. And I'm love with you."
"Tough luck."
I put my arm around her.
You put your arm around her. 
She leans against you. And a long spell of time passes.
"Did you know that I did this exact same thing [having sex] a long time ago? Right in this same spot?"
"I know," you tell her.
"How do you know that?' Miss Saeki asks, and looks you in the eyes.
"I was there then."
"Blowing up bridges?"
"Yes, I was there, blowing up bridges."
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
Translated by Philip Gabriel


The POV changes from the first person to the second person after:
"I put my arm around her."
and remains in that person until the end of the scene.

This is an especially powerful device, as it is used by Murakami several times in the novel, and at crucial times, whenever these two characters make love. 

In a movie-making analogy, it is as though the camera carried by the narrator leaves him and takes a more remote position, as though the main character needs more breathing space to withstand the pressure of the situation, as well as more objectivity. 

When you are going to read the novel, you will be even  more impressed to learn who Miss Saeki really is (no spoilers :-), or might be (for the author never really allows you full certainty, characteristically post-impressionistic).