Saint-la­zare wri­ter pu­blishes first book

A unique sto­ry told in prose and verse

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

How to be a hang­man

Louise Car­son has been wri­ting poe­try full time for the past five years but her first book, pu­bli­shed last fall, is a sto­ry com­bi­ning prose and verse.

Rope (Bro­ken Rules Press, 2011) tells the sto­ry of Dea­sil Wid­dy, a child who made his en­trance in­to the world at the exact time that his mo­ther was being han­ged for an un­dis­clo­sed rea­son.

Car­son was ins­pi­red to write Rope while ran­dom­ly per­using the dic­tio­na­ry and re­sear­ching word mea­nings and ori­gins, so­me­thing she of­ten likes to do.

"The name for the title cha­rac­ter just pop­ped up," Car­son said, ex­plai­ning her ini­tial in­ten­tion was to sim­ply write a poem about the cha­rac­ter.

"But there was so much more to those two words, a lot of back sto­ry (I had to tell,)" she no­ted.

Thus the idea for a book was born.

Wri­ting pro­cess

Car­son said the sto­ry took over her life for close to a year, much of which was de­vo­ted to re­sear­ching her to­pic.

The wri­ting of the ac­tual consu­med her for close to a month.

Rope is set in the ear­ly 1700s in the real-life bor­der­lands bet­ween Scot­land and En­gland.

In the Mer­riam-webs­ter dic­tio­na­ry Dea­sil, de­ri­ved from the Scot­tish Gae­lic

sto­ry dei­seil, it­self de­ri­ved from middle Irish des­sel, means to turn clo­ck­wise, or turn to the right. Wid­dy, of Scot­tish and dia­lect En­glish des­cent, is a hang­man’s noose.

An apt name for a child born as his mo­ther swung clo­ck­wise from a hang­man’s noose.

And one gi­ven to him by the town hang­man, who takes the or­phan in and teaches the boy the trade.

Car­son of­ten in­jects such in-depth know­ledge of a word’s ori­gins in­to her tale, ren­de­ring it a book to be re­cko­ned with and one brim­ming with de­light­ful double and triple en­tendre.

A treat for word­smiths, to be sure.

In one pas­sage, when a young Dea­sil (12, or 13-years-old) learns his guar­dian, the hang­man, has him­self been han­ged, the boy re­marks: 'I have no­ti­ced that af­ter the rope turns dea­sil, it turns the other way for an equal num­ber of turns. It turns tua­thal, against the sun, then dea­sil again and so on un­til the bo­dy is still.'

The book ex­plains in prag­ma­tic terms the rea­li­ties in­herent in per­for­ming the hang­man’s' job: 'the cus­to­mer stands on a stool, if a wo­man, or a lad­der, if a man, with wid­dy round the neck.'

The hang­man, it says, usual­ly gives the bo­dy a push to the right as it first falls, for to turn to the left, tua­thal, 'is to go to the De­vil, or to be chan­ged in­to so­me­thing else.'

Car­son says though she wrote Rope in a short amount of time, the bulk of her time was spent on re­search.

"I had to re­search how to pro­per­ly hang so­meone the 18th cen­tu­ry way," she com­men­ted.

And while some ear­ly rea­ders of the book have cal­led it "hea­vy" or "dark," Car­son won­ders if they read the sto­ry through to the end.

"I had (the main cha­rac­ter) in a bad si­tua­tion but he as­ked to come out of it. I did re­deem him," she ex­plai­ned.

Rope is a 49-page tomb com­pri­sed of short chap­ters, usual­ly one or two pages, in­ter­sper­sed with Car­son’s own poems.

The book is prin­ted on a hear­ty ma­ni­la co­lou­red card-stock-type pa­per in a font com­mon to mid 17th cen­tu­ry En­glish prin­ting.

It’s illus­tra­ted with co­pies of such things as wood­cut de­pic­tions from the era.

Com­bi­ned, the sto­ry and images weave a high­ly rea­dable – and in­for­ma­tive – book filled with subtle and unex­pec­ted hu­mour, the afo­re­men­tio­ned double en­tendre, and hints of ma­gic and lore.

Car­son, a mem­ber of the Green­wood Poet’s So­cie­ty and va­rious other wri­ting groups in the re­gion, lives in Saint-la­zare with her tee­nage daugh­ter and their dogs.

She de­di­ca­ted the book to the 'li­bra­rians of Bi­blio­thèque de Saint-la­zare and the Hud­son War Me­mo­rial Li­bra­ry.'

Rope is avai­lable through Bro­ken Rules Press in Sainte-anne-de-bel­le­vue, at The Word book store in Mon­treal, as well as Pa­ra­graphe book store in Mon­treal. It can al­so be pur­cha­sed by contac­ting Car­son at loui­se_m_­car­son@hot­


Saint-la­zare wri­ter Louise Car­son re­cent­ly pu­bli­shed her first book,

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