Reading Jack Vance


I've been enthused about Jack Vance again recently, especially his deadpan dialog that is not quite chandler, wodehouse or beckett but echoes with elements of them and possibly defies description or categorisation.

His style is difficult to emulate. But in order to illustrate poorly what it might be like, I've given it a go:

Bikkhu Sandana inspected Jana's outstretched hand sourly.

"I do not distribute funds to strangers." he said. " My personal belief that all should labour for a living forbids any other course but this: I deny your request."

Jana was not cheered by this response. His mouth turned down. "I fail to see why your integrity should contribute to my misery. Surely an enlightened soul such as yourself is habitually munificient to strangers."

Bikkhu Sandana was unmoved. "Your views are in error! I exhort you to labour industriously. Exert yourself in confidence and you will be sure to succeed!"

"What spare change you have will allow me to fortify myself sufficiently such that this will then become possible." Jana responded.

"Bah." the Bikkhu said, "Your feeble attempts at prevarication fail to convince me. You will spend my hardearned cash on alcohol and other substances. I will waste no more time with such as you."

With that the Bikkhu strod off down the street, the tip of his umbrella punctuating every second step violently as if in emphasis of his position.

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