Learn about syllepsis, then refuse to stop employing it


Joe Stockley was in an expensive sports car and deep trouble. This time, he had really let his mouth and his exotic foreign lover run away with him and it was getting beyond a joke and his immediate circle of friends in the form of rumours and speculation.
As he ran a red light, the conversation back in his mind and away from his troubles, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of rising panic and the soft matte finish of his hand-stitched leather steering wheel. Angelica had been absolutely right and his wife for fifteen years, so why was he running scared, these kind of risks and this deadly gauntlet of illicit entanglements?

25 comments:

  1. You are cracking me up with this stuff!
    I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holy cow, that was fantastically painful to read. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Haha! I was just learning about syllepsis in my Writing and Rhetoric Program. Awesome stuff, it never fails to make me laugh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have no idea what syllepsis is and wet pants.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not syllepsis but still worthy of mention: "He was a seaman (sic) soaked tissue in the landfill of society."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very nice! Do you know 'Madeira, M'Dear' by Flanders and Swann? Lyrics here.
    It's got three lovely examples:

    "And he said as he hastened to put out the cat,
    The wine, his cigar and the lamps";

    "She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
    Her courage, her eyes and his hopes."

    "When he asked "what in Heaven?" she made no reply,
    Up her mind, and a dash for the door."

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hilarious!

    @pj I think the first example is indeed lovely but I find the third to be awkward ("Up her mind" doesn't work for me). However, I think the line, "She lowered her standards by raising her glass" is nothing short of brilliant.

    ReplyDelete
  8. P.S. -- Feel free to mine my own site for material. I am sure you will find both many examples of bad writing and it very amusing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Ronald, I believe the third verse makes sense if taken thus:

    She made no reply.
    She made up her mind.
    She made a dash for the door.

    Flanders and Swann are, indeed, brilliant.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love this sOoO much. Oh, and hi reddit!

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Up her mind part was my favorite, @Ronald

    ReplyDelete
  12. 'up her mind' is *supposed* to be awkward. It's syllepsis, it's awkward by deinition - and the added awkwardness of 'up her mind' is a feature, not a bug.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've nominated you for the Superior Scribbler Award. Please go here and see what it's all about. => http://alimbtobepublished.blogspot.com/2009/11/superior-scribbler-award.html

    ReplyDelete
  14. Learn about syllepsis, then refuse to stop employing it or your copy editor.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You really must write badly well on Twitter if you aren't already.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I wasn't, but I am now.

    http://twitter.com/writebadlywell

    Never let it be said that I don't do what I'm told by strangers on the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This blog makes me laugh and the most delightful writing course ever.

    Steve held the courthouse door, his breath, and onto some sliver of hope as Miranda breezed through. Three months had passed since he'd finally driven her crazy and to the bus station where he'd waved goodbye and all rights to her as his own.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I like that Laurie. Laurie's good.

    ReplyDelete
  19. @Lisa,

    I think Ronald's point is that in

    She made no reply.
    She made up her mind.
    She made a dash for the door.

    the middle sentence has a different verb from the first and last ('made up' vs 'made'). This presumably is deliberately done for the awkward effect, but at the break-neck speed of the recording it took me a few years to realize that this verse really had a matching three-part syllepsis.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "made ... up her mind" it has a sort of ogden nash flavor to it and me--istr he was fond of splitting phrasal verbs, though usually to achieve a rhyme, rather than for parallelism.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Mr. Mastodon FarmMonday, December 07, 2009

    I've been enjoying all your posts, but this one is absolutely brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
  22. @Laurie, the problem is that the last "waved" should be

    he'd waved goodbye
    he'd WAIVED all rights to her as his own.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I laughed at this article and all the numerous perversions of the English language here on your epic blog. The computer screen lit my keyboard and my smile, as I avoided my homework and the horror of a world without laughter.

    ReplyDelete