Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Butterfly in Flame, by Nicholas Kilmer

This is the way Kilmer writes: 

"He stood and drained the remainder of his cold tea, as Patrick Henry must have done on the floor of St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, at the end of his speech to the House of Burgesses, after delivering the line -- if indeed he did deliver it -- that would be all anyone ever remembered of him, if they remembered it." 

"It would be like trying to live an actor's life in the streets of Hollywood, 'Hey, do you know who you are?'"

"Liz Harmony sat down so suddenly that her chintz had expressed alarm.  It was used to a more deliberate speed."

"Clay sat up in bed late, reading books that resembled sleeping:  Proust, or Thomas Pynchon."

In the book, Fred Taylor is sent by his employer, the idiosyncratic art collector Clayton Reed, to an art academy to solve the mystery of the missing art teacher and student and head off the scandal that would derail accreditation.  I missed Molly and the kids who were visiting Molly's mother in Florida, though Molly super-reference librarian, was on call to help with the research.

Kilmer writes dialog like people actually speak, that is, almost unintelligibly,

"It's like, well, it would be..."
"A person you know," Carla said. "Presumed innocent and all. But you never think. I mean people you know, you don't think one's going to be killed and another one's the killer." 

"What we found out, which everyone now knows," Carla explained, "except you being new around here: Meg Harrison, that's our teacher-- she's got a surprise visiting artist going to show up for the first-year crit."

Emma said, "I totally fucked that fruit."

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