--and it was then that Dr Trebler stopped and the hallway telephone took over.
Technically speaking, the narrator's art of integrating telephone conversations still lags far behind that of rendering dialogues conducted from room to room, or from window to window across some narrow blue alley in an ancient town with water so precious, and the misery of donkeys, and rugs for sale, and minarets, and foreigners and melons, and the vibrant morning echoes. When Joan, in her brisk long-limbed way, got to the compelling instrument before it gave up, and said hullo (eyebrows up, eyes roaming), a hollow quiet greeted her; all she could hear was the informal sound of a steady breathing; presently the breather's voice said, with a cozy foreign accent: "One moment, excuse me"--this was quite casual, and he continued to breathe and perhaps hem and hum or even sigh a little to the accompaniment of a crepitation that evoked the turning over of small pages.
"Hullo!" she repeated.
"You are," suggested the voice warily, "Mrs Fire?"
"No," said Joan, and hung up.
The ancient town, the donkeys, the vibrant morning echoes: what have they to do with this scene, a discussion of an upcoming faculty party interrupted by a phone call from a potential lodger? Nothing. And yet there they are, as the narrator (a physician) must inform the reader of his weaknesses in the art of narration. I keep forgetting what fun Nabokov is. I am reading his 1953 novel Pnin.
Also: Mighty Reader has read the first draft of Go Home, Miss America and declares it my finest first draft yet (I paraphrase). She asked if I had any major revisions in mind for the novel and I confess that I don't. I may do something more with the Catherine Lark storyline in the middle somewhere, but I don't have any specifics, just an intuition about that section. What I do plan for that MS is to ignore it for a while, maybe a couple of months. Right now I'm doing some last-minute cleanup on The Astrologer before it goes off to the publisher (soon oh soon). I'm also starting revisions on Cocke & Bull with an eye to widening the fictional world a bit; I've been doing some excellent source reading lately and I'll be expanding and rewriting scenes and adding a few new scenes as well. The main storyline will not change, though I've got new prose for the final paragraph that I'm well pleased with.
I also seem to be accumulating materials for the next novel (the Haydn book). That one, my dears, will require a lot of research because the thematic ideas I wish to work with are complex and wide-ranging. Which is author-speak for "the actual plot is pretty slim." But it'll be fun, I tell you.