A novelist’s prose can crowd poetry turf with an ineffability that thwarts paraphrase. Of his mother a protagonist says:
“Ten minutes she will spend in the kitchen working with her swift cat-efficiency, then out and away with the children, surging to and fro in their light inconstant play, her eyes fading in a fond infected look.”
And a little later:
“Outside is the special close blackness of night over water. Bugs dive into the tight new screen and bounce off with a guitar thrum. The children stand in close, feeling the mystery of the swamp and the secrecy of our cone of light.”
The passages are from “The Moviegoer” by Walker Percy.
What strikes me is how ostensible prose can somehow say more than the sum of its words, somewhat like a difficult lyric poem can: The question What does it mean? gives way to the question Could what it says be conveyed exactly in any other way? The reader’s quest is to reach “no” for the answer.
(c) 2020 JMN