[He] aims for parable but comes closer to pat

I_like_my_TV

Senior Member
Tongan
"[The author] aims for parable and, despite inventiveness, comes closer to pat."

I came across this sentence in a review of a collection of short stories by a young writer. I'd like to understand fairly precisely what is meant by the sentence but I have trouble with the word "pat" as used here. Could someone please explain or paraphrase the sentence for me?

Thanks,
 
  • I_like_my_TV

    Senior Member
    Tongan
    A bit more context might help, ILTV.
    The context is as explained in the first post but I may add that the sentence quoted is the conclusion by the reviewer of the collection of short stories he was reviewing.

    Thanks,
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The context is as explained in the first post but I may add that the sentence quoted is the conclusion by the reviewer of the collection of short stories he was reviewing.

    Thanks,
    Don't tell me the truth about love, then. I suspect the reviewer was interrupted in the middle of writing something else, though I can't think what.
     

    dobes

    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    No, in this context 'pat' would mean 'trite', 'cliche', that kind of thing. A story that doesn't lead to bigger questions, but that wraps everything up in the end in a very trite, simple, cliched way.

    The sentence would be, "The author aims for universal truths, but, despite inventiveness, comes closer to cliche."
     

    I_like_my_TV

    Senior Member
    Tongan
    Thomas Tompion said:
    I suspect the reviewer was interrupted in the middle of writing something else, though I can't think what.
    Thank you, Thomas. I'm very surprised to hear this, as it's the conclusion to the review and the sentence is supposed to be complete. Yes, you're right, it's the official review of "Don't tell me the truth about love" on Amazon.

    Edit: Thanks Dobes! Your explanation makes sense. I'll look up "pat" again.

    Cheers,
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    pat (adjective)
    2. Esp. of words: prompt, well-rehearsed or memorized. Hence: (with negative connotation) glib, facile, unconsidered. rare before 20th cent. (now the dominant sense).
    OED

    "... it's the official review of "Don't tell me the truth about love" on Amazon."
    That would have been a useful bit of background/ context to include in the first post.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, dobes and Panj, I had considered the possibility of that meaning of 'pat' - I rejected it on the ground that it was contrasted with a noun, parable. I expect you are right but it's terrible style.
     

    I_like_my_TV

    Senior Member
    Tongan
    Thank you, panjandrum. With your explantion added, the meaning is now crystal clear.

    "[The author] aims for parable and, despite inventiveness, comes closer to pat."
    I think "pat" (adjective) being used in contrast to "parable" (isn't it a noun ?) is rather unusual for me. This is probably the reason for my difficulty in understanding it.
     

    I_like_my_TV

    Senior Member
    Tongan
    Yes, dobes and Panj, I had considered the possibility of that meaning of 'pat' - I rejected it on the ground that it was contrased with a noun, parable. I expect you are right but it's terrible style.
    Thomas, I'm glad we think along a similar line.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I didn't take into account that style might be relevant in the context :)
    Indeed, perhaps to my shame, I went looking for pat (adjective) first.
    I wonder what relevant suggestions there might be under pat (noun)?
    6b. A roundish patch of dung; a cow-pat.

    Hmmmmm :D
     

    I_like_my_TV

    Senior Member
    Tongan
    "[The author] aims for parable and, despite inventiveness, comes closer to pat.

    dobes said:
    Yeah, I think the writer made a little mistake there, contrasting a noun with an adjective.
    I just wonder if "parable" in this sentence is used more like an adjective (cf. "from the sublime to the ridiculous", where adjectives are used as nouns). If it's indeed used as an adjective, then this use of "parable" is now consistent with "pat". Is there anyone else with this line of thinking?
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top