J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fall of Arthur
Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
I can only blame myself and a certain flower for my current state. Or two flowers, actually. (p. 11)Intriguing, yes, but nothing overtly surprising about a character reminiscing about how a flower might be responsible (is it in a symbolic or a very real sense, though?) for some nebulous "current state." But there is something further down on the first page that immediately caught my attention:
"It's a crown imperial, " she said.Here Krohn has embedded a narrative "hook" that snagged me. What is so important about the "being" of the flower in question? In which directions could this story go? There were no reveals, no expository points that explained why this "crown imperial" was apparently so important to the story. Instead, Krohn took this musing on the nature of the object and she spun off a story that went deeper and deeper into that inscrutable mental realm in which the things that we think we understand turn out to be the elements that are most incomprehensible to us.
"But it might not be," I insisted.
What made me say that? A sudden thought that the flower was unknowable, not just by me, but by anybody, even people who knew its name. But I wasn't able to express this epiphany in a way that other people could understand. I didn't mean that the flower had some other name. What I wanted to say had to do with being, not naming. The name of the flower was something completely arbitrary and beside the point. The flower was not what it was called. Not this flower. Not any flower. (p. 11)