Lists in Writing Fiction


In class, we have talked about how to write multiplicity and simultaneity. We started our discussion with reading the essay that Professor Litt wrote, but we also read some examples from The Bonfire of the Vanities. In the first pages of the book, there is a great description of all the ethnic groups and neighbourhoods in New York City. At page 41, there is a huge list of professions and different people living in NY. What’s the point of it? Is it useful to describe the huge amount of different people living in a city? Are lists always comprehensive with everyone, especially in such a city as NY? Is the objective not to leave anyone out? Are lists useful to approach things in different ways? Do they give a lively idea of a place that keeps changing?

After reading these examples of lists, Professor Litt wanted us to write a list about any aspect of London. This is mine. I think this could be a useful exercise for my final project of this class. In fact, I would like to put a bit of Stratford, the neighbourhood where I live, in my piece. This list is about the main square when you go out of the tube in Stratford, East London.

It does not matter if it’s a busy Tuesday morning or a Sunday night at three, when everyone could be sleeping in their beds before the week begins again. You can’t be alone at Stratford station. It is a travellers’ place. Businessmen check their wirst watches and hold their coffees while hurry to the Underground. Muslim mothers push their strollers as young students go to school, proud of their elegant uniforms. You can hear languages from all over the world. This is London. As a bus full of workers wearing different uniforms stops at Stratford, you can spot a Costa shirt, a hostess tailleur, an overall. They are travelers. People get off the bus and scatter around the square, trying to catch the Underground, the Overground or another bus. People come and go. And there are the buses heading to Stansted airport – you can see couples hugging and saying goodbye. A man smoking a cigarette and waiting for someone to arrive at the bus stop. A couple crying. A female version of Big Lebowski, with sunglasses and a fur over her pijama, with shopping bags. A group guys coming back home from a very intense night – someone is still drunk. A couple of taxi drivers who read The Sun and look at a girl’s legs as she walks past them. This is Stratford. In 30 minutes you’ll be in Oxford Circus, and in 20 you wil be in Camden Town. In 45 minutes you’ll be at Stansted Airport to catch a flight to Maldives and never see London again.



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