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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Vexed

Vexed

From Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch:

“Are you vexed with me?” Family language: vexed. A word Andy had used when we were children.

Seems like a bit of Lampshade Hanging used to make you ignore that word — vexed — rather than for a particular detail or plot point (some of which require a pretty solid suspension of disbelief in this novel). It’s almost as if Tartt was adamant she would use this word and would justify it any way she could. It’s an indulgence, and one that I think works.

I say good on her for it, too. That line made me chuckle as much as it did strike me as an interesting use of trope.

What may be most interesting to me about it, though, is the fact that a line like this would get ripped up in a workshop. Not that a workshop doesn’t have its value (a tremendous amount of it, in fact) but the notion of a workshop is necessarily attuned to find and destroy things like this, despite how clever it is. It is designed to destroy indulgences, especially of the linguistic variety.

I would never give up my workshop experiences (and would welcome more) but it holds true that the best lessons about writing happen outside of the classroom, and always will. Mostly, they happen while reading.

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