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Who looks at people’s hands?

October 6, 2011

I have been writing a scene which includes the description of a man’s hands. It made me think about how little I look at hands, or indeed, if I could recognize my friends from their hands. The old saying goes – I knew it as well as the back of my hand –  but do we really know our own hands? I presume women will look at hands more than men, if only to check out rings or manicures, but I can’t remember the last time I made a careful examination of someone’s hands. Most literary descriptions are limited to the tapering fingers of a pianist or artist, or the calloused, rough hands of a manual worker. Sherlock Holmes always made a beeline for hands, so maybe it’s time we took a hands-on approach.

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