Saturday, October 08, 2005


Tosh and Table Margarine

Over at the Times of London, Grahame Rawle describes how he collaged the text of his novel Woman's World from his massive collection of 1960s women's magazines:

Found text became an integral part of the story. By cutting out words and rearranging them on the page, “big-boned” Norma Fontaine finds a feminine voice with which to tell her tale — a voice that inevitably takes on the chirpy wisdom and underlying moral tone of the original writing.

To get the story structure right, I set the collage aside and wrote my book in the traditional way as a word-processed document. At the same time I was collecting fragments of text from the magazines, saving anything that I thought might prove relevant – words, phrases and sentences that would approximate to what I wanted to say. I think in all I clipped more than a million words from editorial pieces, romance stories, problem pages, and advertisements..... A sentence might be made from five or six separate components. A simple line such as “I was furious and had to leave the room” could end up as “Red rage rose within me like mercury in a toffee thermometer and I knew I had to leave before I reached the boiling point for fudge”. Instead of saying “Nonsense”, Norma might say: “That’s all tosh and table margarine.”

In a related story: Cosmopolitan Releases 40-Year Compendium: 812,683 Ways To Please Your Man.

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