An Open Letter To Mr Charles Dickens, Because He Let Me Down by Linda Cosgriff
It was the best of first lines, it was the worst of first lines.
It started well but, Chuck, it was a paragraph in before
you had your first period. What the Dickens were you thinking?
[Don’t roll your eyes, Reader; it had to be said, and now it’s out of the way.]
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie: stop dragging it out.
You name the year so many times, I think you may have lost your head a little.
But wait! A Mysterious Stranger; A Smelly Coach; A Misty Night.
A page-and-a-half of a minor character’s censure of his boss – miles away,
I might add, from anyone with the capacity to give him the kicking
he so clearly deserves. Boz, it’s bleak.
We reach the hotel. Swell. Things look up: A Gorgeous Girl joins the cast
(blonde, naturally), but is immediately rendered insensible.
Reprehensible, Charles. This reader wants to like her
but she’s quickly catatonic and it’s clear her liaison with the Stranger
is strictly platonic.
I’m sorry: our mutual friend has now been formally introduced as Mr Lorry. I want no truck with him. He’s brown; he’s dull;
he has no business being in one of your novels. Habitually brilliant,
you have mislaid your talent here. You appear to have chuzzled
your wits, Chip. I’m smarting.
And so to Chapter Five: French proles guzzle wine-stroke-mud from the gutter.
No good will come of it (the aforementioned and mentioned and mentioned
Year refers). The writing is definitely on the wall; the peasants whine for blood.
It’s seedy, CD; a tale not too pretty and – so far – not at all witty.
There’s no mystery, you see, except for one: why did you write it?
Here’s a curiosity: Charles Darnay has your name and initials.
You could have shopped around a bit. If he’s anything like you,
however, I bet he gets the girl.
And so it’s hard times for Sydney Second-Best Carton;
frustration for this reader: I wanted a twist. He should have boxed clever.
Chaz, I picked up your book with great expectations
but you left me with a dreadful impression.
Perhaps I’ll watch the film instead.
It would be a far, far better thing to do.