Present — Tense?


She looks up at the patron standing before her at the desk.  She takes the library card, and asks “How are you doing this fine day?” The patron replies, in a friendly manner, that she is doing quite well.  The library assistant glances down at the books being checked out by the patron.  The largest of these is Wolf Hall” Hilary Mantel’s 2009 Man Booker Prize winning historical novel about Thomas Cromwell.  The patron sees her glance, and says “That is a great book.  I didn’t quite finish it before, but I really loved it.”Wolf Hall

She (the library assistant) replies with a sigh “I started it but couldn’t get very far.  It is written in the present tense, and for some reason I just don’t care for that.”  She (the patron) says, “That is true, but I think it a very well-written novel, full of intrigue and intensity.  Perhaps you should try it again.”  She (the library assistant) thanks the patron graciously, stamps the book, and bids her a fond adieu.

She thinks to herself “Am I missing out on great literature because of a simple prejudice against the continuous use of the present tense in these prize-winning tomes?”  Feeling bad about herself and guilty that she is being so narrow-minded, she naturally turns to the internet for solace.  To her great surprise, and happiness, she comes across this article by Philip Pullman, no stranger to winning prizes himself, in The Guardian.

As she turns to the computer to write a blog entry, she decides that it is perfectly acceptable to choose one writer’s style over another’s, and decides to reread His Dark Materials instead.His Dark Materials

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