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Good evening everyone,

My last post started, ‘It’s me again.’ So I guess all I can say is, ‘again & again & again.’

I’d like a check on a 2-sentence sequence, please. I’ll explain briefly what precedes it. Katherine is going to the American embassy to slip human rights reports in the diplomatic pouch when she sees a detail of Czech police checking IDs for admittance. Although her passport is in order, Katherine’s residence permit is not exactly official. She’s been hired to teach English by a progressive headmaster whose contacts in the Communist Party enabled him to obtain a 3-month extension of the original permit that she received as a grantee directly from the police. Her work ‘permit’ is simply her contract. Normally both residence and work permits would be granted by the Ministry of Education. When the policeman sees her papers, he thinks he’s caught her in an irregularity and pulls her aside. His first question is simply to confirm that she’s a teacher. He’s condescending, and that has already angered her. His second question is whether she’s gotten her post through the Ministry (he knows she hasn’t). This is her response :

“Ne.” She looks steadily into the cruel eyes, says inwardly, ‘I have highly placed connections’, knowing that that will show in her own, and responds with three carefully chosen words: “přimo přes reditele” – ‘directly through the headmaster’. Mind lucid, smiling lips up top, stomach churning below. Absurdist theatre, Czech style.

QUESTIONS are about the last 2 sentences, "Mind lucid… Czech style." First, is it clear that they are K’s thoughts, not the narrator’s. Second, are they unnecessary, intrusive, or do they add ? If so, what ? Should I invoke a variant of Jon’s RUE – RUC ‘Resist the Urge to Comment’ ? Thank you very much.

    • Hi, Penny. This is an interesting perspective. I know that I like things to be short with a lot of impact, and I often need to unpack stuff. I'll give this careful thought and try out some possibilities. Thank you.

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      • I was thrown by a couple of things. Putting the thought 'I have highly placed connections' in single quotes made me think she said it out loud, even though you say she said it inwardly. By the time I'd backtracked to work it out, I'd lost the connection to his eyes, so I had to backtrack again to work out what 'her own' referred to. 

        It's confused further when you use the single quotes again, not to convey a thought this time, but to mark a translation.

        And it is a rather long sentence, carrying six different ideas.

        I don't have suggestions about how to fix it. You could try throwing the spotlight back on the guard - watching him register that she must have connections, rather than concentrate on her trying to plant the idea. We can work out for ourselves what she did, as we see his reaction.

        But it's a nice encounter, a mini- power-play, with a lot of subtext, so well worth getting right.


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        • Hi Glyn,

          There is a reaction from the policeman. It just wasn't part of the text I posted.

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          • Hi Janet, 

            interesting questions! You already have some great answers but may I add a couple of observations? Of course this is just my opinion, feel free to ignore it completely as it is so subjective!

            I really like the scene you are describing, I do though feel it is a little confused by the question of who's thoughts we are reading.

            If these are K's thoughts, I wonder why she is thinking them in this dangerous moment? It feels a little too inward looking, too reflective. Why would she be considering how lucid her mind is? Because of this, it doesn't feel loaded with the urgency or tension of the situation for me. I feel the same about the reference to Absurdist Theatre, this feels like an observation made with the comfort of distance, not made by someone who's very life (or at least freedom) could be in danger. 

            Also, being a theatre pedant, although what she is doing might be thought of by some as absurd, i can't quite see the connection with absurdist theatre. K's life certainly doesn't seem absurd, hopeless or devoid of purpose. Perhaps this IS too pedantic, but I just find the reference a little distracting.

            Because of all this I would say the answer to your question is that they feel more like the narrator's thoughts and yes, they are, for me, intrusive.

            I hope this doesn't sound too critical Janet, as I say I like what you are describing, I think maybe it just needs more urgency... hope that helps.

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            • I thought Penny's format caught your thoughts perfectly while remaining reasonably true to the text.  Must admit I was initially a bit thrown by the would show in her own  and then realised it was her own eyes, so the substitution of her composure shouting the message worked well.  Sounds absolutely gripping

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