One of my favorite quotes about writing is this one from Saul Bellow:
“Writers are readers inspired to emulation.”
That notion calls to mind three recent posts here at Writer Unboxed: one by Dave King on how much he’s learned about dialog from Aaron Sorkin; a second by Kathleen McCleary on how incredibly helpful reading fiction has been for her current work in progress; and just yesterday Greer Macallister’s exploration of writing lessons to be learned from the hit play Hamilton.
Accordingly, I’ve decided to provide my own contribution to this emerging mini-genre, and discuss a book I return to often for the numerous lessons it’s offered.
The novel is titled Bellman & True, written by British novelist and screenwriter Desmond Lowden. He adapted the book into a film of the same title (follow this link to watch the trailer), and that title comes from an old Cumberland song, “D’ye Ken John Peel,” specifically the lyric:
Yes, I ken John Peel and Ruby too.
Ranter and Ringwood, Bellman and True.
From a find to a check, from a check to a view,
From a view to a death in the morning.
There’s a pun in the term “bellman.” Above and beyond its use to denote both a hotel employee and a town crier, it ‘s also criminal slang for someone who specializes in getting past bank alarms.