Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sneaking Snacks

“You brought a snack?” he asked, his expression incredulous as he took an involuntary step forward.
Edward snarled even more ferociously, harshly, his lip curling high above his glistening, bared teeth. Laurent stepped back again.
Stephenie Meyer ~ Twilight

In the novel, The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, the demon Screwtape goes on a rant about God to his nephew.

“He’s vulgar, Wormword. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working.”

I include snacking in that list of pleasures. There is something so innocent, so inconsequential in snack time, that although God might allow it, most authors do not. Snacking in the literary world is rare. It’s one of those things that happen between the lines in a character’s life; it is typically excluded from a story, except to advance the plot, as in the example from Twilight. In that scene, the suggestion of a snack is used to increase tension and build drama. But there is no actual snack.

Snacking is sadly lacking in fiction, (love that alliteration!) and I have a theory why. If more people took time out of their day to snack, they would not be half so grouchy, and there would go all the conflict. I sometimes think that all that villains need to distract them from world domination is bag of chips. Imagine Sauron rummaging through the cupboards in the Dark Tower for some Lays and having found them, sitting in his favorite chair with a good book for an hour. His having a little snack everyday might have saved Frodo a lot of trouble.

By the way, teatime doesn’t count. In the literary world of writers such as Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, Agatha Christie, and Edith Wharton, teatime was always fraught with drama. Mr. Darcy retained every bit of his pride over a cup of cup.

In her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Gloria Steinem wrote a great essay on the politics of food, in which she analyzed the social compacts different cultures have adopted concerning food and the ritual of eating. There are similar compacts in novels. Food and eating rituals, whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, or supper, are all part of the plot. There is no unauthorized eating in fiction. Every time someone eats, it serves a purpose. I think that is why there is such a dearth of snacks in novels. Snacks are just to “snacky” to be taken seriously.

(Note to self: I think that sometimes characters sneak off to have a snack when their writers aren’t looking—they are called “snucks.”)

No comments:

Post a Comment