Amuse Bouche: G.B. Edwards


Voice rules.

Whether it’s the writer’s voice, or the writer’s characters’ voices, we can’t help but be drawn by the sound of another soul manifesting itself through voice. Sometimes characters figuratively grab us by the lapels and sometimes they quietly charm. However they choose to draw us into their worlds, their primary medium is voice.

I’m starting a feature I’m calling Amuse Bouche — a little sampler of compelling voices that tantalize and awaken the senses. I’ll serve a few of these up, from time to time.

See what you think of this, the first paragraph of a strange and wonderful book by G.B. Edwards called The Book of Ebenezer Le Page.

Guernsey, Guernesey, Garnsai, Sarnia: so they say. Well, I don’t know, I’m sure. The older I get and the more I learn, the more I know I don’t know nothing, me. I am the oldest on the island, I think. Liza Queripel from Pleinmont say she is older; but I reckon she is putting it on. When she was a young woman, she used to have a birthday once every two or three years; but for years now she have been having two or three a year. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how old I am. My mother put it down on the front page of the big Bible; but she put down the day and the month, and forgot to put down the year. I suppose I could find out if I went to the Greffe; but I am not going to bother about that now.

I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly looking forward to what the rest of that meal might hold. Conversational, slightly gossipy, and from someone who is above all from a different time and place — this voice promises to give us a story. Or two. The first-person allows for greater intimacy but compelling voice can be heard in all the POV’s. More examples to come…


4 Responses to “Amuse Bouche: G.B. Edwards”

  1. 1 Caroline8989 April 13, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I’m utterly shaken by this book. Did any book ever ring so true? I’ve been to Jersey but you can bet my next vacation will be to Guernsey. I know it is a different place then what the author was writing about.

  2. 2 Patrick August 21, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    I love The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. I like how this paragraph ends in a very different place from where it begins: he starts by running through the various names form Guernsey then drifts into all the questions about his age. There’s also ELP’s admission that his knowledge is limited and that certain things get in the way of his knowing certain basic facts (hearsay, Liza lying about her age, his mother forgetting to put down his age, his lack of desire to know his age for certain anyway). It’s a prose that feeds on uncertainties. Limited knowledge isn’t simply a literary device here; it’s really central to the book. I love the novel’s slightly roughened, plain Guernsey English, its obliquity, its eddying tempo. It’s crammed with anecdotes and stories. Edwards often stuns without being flashy: just a page later, ELP says that the way his mother said his father’s name made him think that “he was something I did wrong.”

  3. 4 Charles May 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    To be honest, the first paragraph didn’t grab me. But I continued .. and The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is one of the finest, most magical books I’ve read in a long life of reading.

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