Ch1 p.1: “Mma Ramottswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Eagle Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two hairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe—the only lady private detective in Botswana—brewed redbush tea. And three mugs—one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need? Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had an abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course.”
Here is the first line from one of my favorite novels by Alexander McCall Smith. In writing my imitation, I think it is the objects which make this introduction stand out. The objects introduce the setting; the objects introduce the secondary characters. My art and writing have always been driven by objects. Things in themselves provide so much information about character, meaning, and situation.
Mrs. Polly lived in a yellow house
at the top of Platte Woods hill
near the Pizza Shop.
These were its assets:
blue shutters, hard wood floors,
fenced yard, and a
Garden of Eden dining room chandelier.
Then there was a tea pot in which
Mrs. Polly--former painter, now mother of two--
boiled hot water for black tea every day
between three and four o'clock
(whenever the children were spinning
from their nap, and she needed a quick
And the two flowered mugs
she bought at the Salvation Army
for nineteen cents when they were very poor --
one for herself and one for Sophie,
her daughter who usually drank
"flower" tea which was really chamomile.
What else does a yellow house really need?
Mother's rely on intuition, research,
and the proper amount of caffeine,
all of which Mrs. Polly had in abundance.
No inventory would ever
include those, of course.