Monday, November 19, 2007

Reader's Diary #311- Elizabeth Taylor: Miss A and Miss M

Short Story Monday

Over at A Curious Singularity we voted (yes, me too) on Elizabeth Taylor's "Miss A and Miss M" for our November short story discussion. No, it's not that Elizabeth Taylor. Too bad really. It probably wouldn't have been so dull. Nutty perhaps, but not dull.

Speaking of dull, I might as well do the predictable and compare her to Jane Austen. Sort of. In case you don't remember, I referred to the language of Pride and Prejudice as stilted. In Austen's defence though, I also went on to to call it "dated." And while many Austenites may not take too much comfort in that, it does give her the edge over Elizabeth Taylor, of whom I also immediately drew similarities. While Austen's writing- whether you like it or not- can be attributed to her time and place, Taylor's simply comes across as stodgy. For example:

Down one of those slopes below St. Margaret's streamed the Cherry Orchard, a vast delight in summer of marjoram and thyme. An unfrequented footpath led through it, and every step was aromatic.

hucgncoawn42TG4YCB4GXGBNAKGH...oh, I'm sorry. I fell asleep on my keyboard. Seriously though, was this written in the 1900s?

It's not as if I didn't give it a chance. I tried to follow what I first perceived to be a slight homoerotic plot between the title women and the narrator, but it didn't amount to anything. I thought maybe Miss Alliot's cruelty might add some much needed spice, but herbs were all I got. Simply put, I wanted something, ANYthing more than Taylor delivered.

Is it too late to change my vote?


Chris said...

Sounds thrilling.

My short story post is a bit different: Name that short story!

Rob Hardy said...

Elizabeth Taylor is one of my favorite writers. I've blogged about her here. She's a great novelist, but probably not everyone's cup of tea. By her own admission, she preferred stories in which almost nothing happens.

kookie said...

Wow, I've had Elizabeth Taylor recommended to me before and haven't gotten around to reading her yet, now I think I can wait even longer. "Every step was aromatic" is not exactly setting my heart on fire. Thanks John.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I'm not surprised you didn't find those sentences thrilling, although your sleep typing is cracking me up.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I am just happy that you did not drool on your keyboard in your sleep and short the thing out. Ms Taylor would have owed you a new one.

Allison said...

Oi, I think I dozed halfway through that little excerpt myself. I like a little more excitement from my words.

John Mutford said...

Chris: Thanks for the link. Sorry I couldn't have been more help!

Rob: I don't think I'd mind so much if nothing happened to an interesting character.

Kookiejar: I'm not rushing out to read more by her.

Carrie: Impressive that I managed to roll onto the Capslock, isn't it?

Barbara: That I didn't drool is proof that I was faking.

Allison: I agree. That said, I like some slower paced stories, this however felt near comatose.

Rob Hardy said...

I'm sure that now you'll want to go out and find the movie version of this story (1986), which is available on video. (I found it for 40¢ on, but couldn't find a copy on

Stephanie said...

Guess I'm going to have to pass on this one!! It must have been the steller review (or maybe the fact that you feel asleep at the keyboard!!)