Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 5: Meet the Characters

The Unnameables characters in a painting by Rob Shillady, painted after the first draft. That’s Medford at lower left, with Prudy and her brother Earnest standing behind him, the Goatman and dog at right. In the background is a character who no longer exists, plus the unpleasant Deemer Learned; his daughter, Essence, and the Constable brothers.

We’re on Island, in the auditorium on the second floor of Town Hall. It’s set up for Book Learning: a dozen or so student desks in rows before the Council table and the map of Island and Surrounding Waters taking up half the front wall. Ellen is sitting at the Council table with Medford and his friend Prudy. The Goatman is sitting on the floor beside a pile of scrap paper left over from Book Learning.

On a lectern nearby is the Book , whose real name is A Frugall Compendium of Home Arts and Farme Chores by Capability C. Craft (1680), as Amended and Annotated by the Island Council of Names (1718–1809).

ELLEN: So, Medford, did you know you’re in a book yourself now?
PRUDY: How can someone be “in” a book?
ELLEN: Excuse me, Prudy. I was talking to Medford.
MEDFORD: I was going to ask the same thing anyway.
ELLEN: I’ve written a book called The Unnameables. It describes what happened to you last year, after the Goatman arrived.
PRUDY: How is that of any Use?
MEDFORD: I was going to ask that, too.
THE GOATMAN (stuffing a wad of paper into his mouth and chewing): It’s a ta-a-a-ale.
ELLEN: Exactly. It tells people what happened, so they know about it. (Whispers to Medford) And maybe they’ll enjoy reading it.
PRUDY: I heard that. Just as I thought…Useless. Maybe Unnameable.
ELLEN: Well, people could draw their own conclusions from what happened to you all. That’s probably Useful.
PRUDY: Why would they care? They don’t even live here.
MEDFORD: Does this book have me telling people how to do things? Because I don’t know how to do very much.
PRUDY: False modesty be as bad as bragging, the Book says. Thou knowst how to carve. And thou didst help Pa to build thy cabin.
MEDFORD: You’re talking Book Talk again.
PRUDY (stiffly): The occasion demanded it.
THE GOATMAN: Is it a good book?
ELLEN (stiffly): What do you mean?
THE GOATMAN (swallowing a wad of paper): I hope it tastes better than thi-i-is stuff.
PRUDY: I still don’t understand how one can be “in” a book.
MEDFORD: I think she just means she wrote about me in her journal. I don’t understand why, though.
GOATMAN: This book must be bi-i-ig. Do you cut a hole to get in, or is there a door?
ELLEN: Never mind. Forget I said anything.

Thank you for celebrating your debut with us this week, Ellen! Best of luck to you and The Unnameables.

1 comment:

zu vincent said...

Ellen,

You're awesome. I'm proud to have your book on my desk ready to read! Zu