Thursday, August 01, 2013

An example of spare, elegant writing

Sometime after 10:30 on a Thursday morning in May, after he'd had his cup of coffee, Dick Trickle snuck out of the house. His wife didn't see him go. He eased his 20-year-old Ford pickup out on the road and headed toward Boger City, N.C., 10 minutes away. 

He drove down Highway 150, a two-lane road that cuts through farm fields and stands of trees and humble country homes that dot the Piedmont west of Charlotte, just outside the reach of its suburban sprawl. Trickle pulled into a graveyard across the street from a Citgo station. He drove around to the back. It was sunny. The wind blew gently from the west. Just after noon, he dialed 911. The dispatcher asked for his address.

"Uh, the Forest Lawn, uh, Cemetery on 150," he said, his voice calm. The dispatcher asked for his name. He didn't give it.

"On the backside of it, on the back by a ‘93 pickup, there's gonna be a dead body," he said.

"OK," the woman said, deadpan.

"Suicide," he said. "Suicide."

"Are you there?"

"I'm the one."

"OK, listen to me, sir, listen to me."

"Yes, it'll be 150, Forest Lawn Cemetery, in the back by a Ford pickup."

"OK, sir, sir, let me get some help to you."


This is a great example of elegant writing.  Lean as hell, and evokes such a swell of emotion a reader is compelled to read more.

Here's the rest of the article: Elegy of a Race Car Driver  (thanks to the Fabulous Steve Ulfelder for this one)


John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

Read the whole article. Really a compelling bit of writing. But I have to admit, when I first read the name "Dick Trickle" I thought it HAD to be a joke. There was no way that was anyone's real name. Turns out, it was.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Janet, this had my heart thumping so hard! All THAT in the space of ...well, what looks like one page. This is the sort of writing to aspire to!

Btw - this is in my neck of the woods, so to speak. And the other odd twist...JUST this morning I was joking with my husband about calling our adopted little Yorkie..., DICK TRICKLE! (His name is actually Mister) but, sometimes he gets excited, and well, you know, little drops end up on the floor. Not an all out accident, but..., trickle trickle trickle. I thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, this had a blistering effect on my blood pressure.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

That was exceptional.

Michael Seese said...

I did enjoy this snippet. Personally, I like detailed descriptions like "Ford pickup" and "Citgo station."

A question, that I will ask out of a desire to learn, rather than be a know-it-all. Wouldn't "It was sunny. The wind blew gently from the west" be an example of telling, not showing?

Anonymous said...

Janet, glad you spotted this in my FB feed - I knew you would like it, actually thought about sending you a link. A fine piece about a complex man.

Tracy MacDonald said...

Loved reading this. Now to read the rest.

Unknown said...

An elegy is a song for the dead. A celebration of a life well lived, a story well-told, and a death well-mourned.

The author did all three.

I'm sad I'll never get to meet Richard Trickle.