More on cultural meaning
Published: May 26, 2006
|In the July 2006 issue of The Writer, novelist Bharti Kirchner wrote about the challenges of conveying a foreign culture to readers without intruding on the fictional dream. Here is her Before and After sidebar on the topic.|
Deepening a passage of dialogue
In an early draft of my novel Pastries: A Novel of Desserts and Discoveries, I showed a renowned baker, Matsumoto, telling my protagonist, Sunya, what he expects of his students. Sunya listens without questioning.
"My kitchen is a little laboratory, where the results are immediate and clear. During the baking exercises, the students expose attitudes and habits that have been woven into their lives, that have perhaps not worked to their advantage but, instead, have only left them bewildered and frustrated."
In the published version of the novel, I show Sunya's resistance, both inner and expressed, to Matsumoto's speech above. Though the same information is conveyed, this passage bristles with tension.
I look away to the flowerpots that line both sides of the entrance. ... It'd be hard to quarrel with Matsumoto's philosophy as such, but the question that keeps nagging at me is: will it work for me?
"In return, my students must take order from me without questions."
"You must relinquish your ego while you're in the kitchen."