Does Alan Garner have a facility with language? Yes, he does. In his Thursbitch, he evokes an eighteenth century dialect of Cheshire that not only sounds melodious but also rum to my ears. His protagonist, Jack Turner, is a wandering packman who travels far out of his village to trade salt and returns bearing gifts from towns his village-folk have scarcely heard of. And they are a curious folk, ignorant of life outside their own locality and beholden to pagan gods.
"Now then, youth."
"Now then, Father."
"Yon was a tragwallet and a bit."
"Above a bit. But it made a mighty penny."
"That's what counts."
"So you did get a second bit off his head, I see."
"We did. An abundation. Yon good slobber of rain fixed us nicely. And yours is in, too. High Medda and all."
"Grand. And I picked the corbel bread, gen next year, on me way up from Chester." He set apart a bag of red and white toadstools.
"What have you fetched us?" said Mary.
"Now why should a men as has been down London be at fetching trinklements all that road? It's jag enough, without trinklements on top."
"London?" said Mary. "What's that?"
"Where King is."
"Who's he now?" said Richard Turner.
"And a right midden of a place, I can tell you," said Jack. "I don't know how he tholes it, King. I was glad to be shut; I was that."
In the present day, meanwhile, a geologist is degenerating slowly and finds herself attracted to the landscape of erstwhile Thursbitch. She makes frequent trips - it's not entirely clear how much time elapses between visits - there, and each time she appears to meld more and more into it. In keeping with the finest traditions of the historical novel, this is yet another tale with converging strands, a fantasy where magic and modernity intersect.
Actually, I jumped a brief hop to the letter 'L' to check out an Elmore Leonard (I'd read him before, of course, but couldn't resist The Switch). There's a particularly bitchy bit in it that had me grinning:
But sitting with the ladies- it was a strange thing - Mickey would be with them but not with them. She would be perched somewhere watching the group, herself in it - the same way she saw herself with Frank when they were arguing. Never completely involved. The ladies appeared to talk in turn, but they didn't. There was an overlapping of voices and topics changed abruptly. Mickey wondered if there was something wrong with her, why her attention span as so short when it came to cleaning ladies, cub scouts, the PTA, clothes, golf scores, tennis strokes, historical love novels written by women with three names, dieting, what their husbands liked for dinner, how much their husbands drank, how their husbands tried to make love on Saturday night and couldn't, face-lifts, boob-lifts, more dieting -