Friday, 19 June 2009

Improve the paragraph below

And but so I was in Stockport College t'other day, checking out my friend R's* graduating exhibition while he printed a joke T-shirt. In order to do this (print the T-shirt) he had to photocopy the designs onto transparencies...and what should he find in the photocopier but a Literacy Worksheet.

"Improve the paragraph below:

The boy was alone in the cemetery. It was dark. It was gloomy. The boy saw something. He was scared. It was a vampire.*1 The vampire was chasing him. He was scared. The vampire caught him. The vampire bit him. He was dead."

Now, I think that's pretty good to begin with. It clearly belongs to the literary sub-genre identified by David Foster Wallace (in an article of 1987) as "ultra-minimalism"; meaning that it uses a superficial, fact-heavy mode with highly fragmented syntax as a means of breaking down its story into a set of cold, hard narrative objects. So far, so stylized.

But I like rising to challenges once in a while (the more banal the better), and so I've determined to set off on a Raymond Queneau-type quest to render this passage in as many different ways as I can think of. If anyone else fancies it (who am I kidding?), they can contribute too.

Number I (in the style of Edward Bulwer-Lytton)

It was a dark and gloomy night; the boy was alone in the cemetery (for it is here that our scene lies), looking about himself with great anxiety, fearing at every moment the impending transplantation of those dread figures of his imagination into yet more terrible corporeality. And though he was desperate to be out of the place, he found himself, as if by some fiendish hex, unable to move his feet; he was (in the parlance of the great unwashed) rooted to the spot.

All at once, his vision was blighted by a most foul aspect, a terrifying spectre of nightmare; in short, a vampire! The beast, though resembling a man in shape and dress, betrayed its inhumanity by its protrusive fangs, which dripped copiously with the blood of its last victim. It leapt at the boy, who, finding himself at last unbound, took to his heels with tremendous vigour.

The chase that ensued was most panic stricken. The boy, lacking the keen nighttime vision of his predator, stood little chance; he crashed from one tombstone into another, as though those already dead were conspiring to welcome him to their fold. Finally, he fell to the ground, cowering in the filthy undergrowth like a mere animal. The vampire loomed over him, blotting out what little of the moon's light there was to be cast upon the terrible scene; a dread cry rang out as he finally descended upon his prey.

His neck pierced, his life's blood drained, the boy succumbed to the dark and the gloom. He was alone once more.

*I.e. Roland. Roland Le Good. I have nothing to hide.
*1 There's an accompanying picture of a cutesy little-boy vampire. Bizarrely, he has no mouth.

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