Friday, February 24, 2017

Twelve-tweet review of the film Genius about Thomas Wolfe

Tweeted a 12-part review of the film Genius, a mixed work, at best. Jude Law plays literary genius Thomas Wolfe (who eventually informed and inspired Kerouac's view of sprawling America). Colin Firth is quite good as legendary editor Max Perkins who had to cut, cut, cut massive Wolfe's epic manuscripts. this was, though, a very awkward pleasure. As the first movie I've ever seen about Wolfe. I was excited just to hear his prose. However, Genius depicts writers, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Wolfe, as OCD/mad/mentally ill junkies. Ernest Hemingway is the too-macho exception (as he was, apparently, in real life). Wolfe is portayed as a mentally ill soul whose joy for life is too childike, too rare. He conveniently epiphanates (not a real word, but appropriate), then expires. That's not exactly how Wolfe passed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sentences Not to Include in Your Second Novel

After completing my manuscript for second literary horror novel, Monstrous, I feel compelled to once again list what I consider silly typos. So, without further ado, and because you demanded it (or, at least, the author wanted it), here are more sentences not to include in your book...

Sentences Not to Include in Your Second Novel

p. 453: Miguel stared downward with widened eyes. When he looked up, they were going uphill. 
Somebody – please – grab those eyeballs. Editor’s Note.

p. 203: She nodded, waited a beat, and then raised her hands to attempt to quiet them.
Now that's a very odd way to try to make your hands quiet. –Ed.

Even Dwight chuckled and wiped his eyes off.
Poor Dwight. How will he see? And not with the eyeballs again! –Ed.

The man behind him had no face whatsoever. He had indentations where eyes, a nose and mouth should have been. Before they reached the bus, someone screamed.
Someone should scream; this man’s facial features are out of control. Stop them before they reach the bus –Ed.

His words, delivered so quickly, slid into her as sharply as any blade wood.
Sharp words, indeed. –Ed.

P. 279: John was stunned by how quickly Joshua observed things. For a stoner, he was observant and quick-wittered.
Good thing Joshua has his witters about him. –Ed. 

Poetry Review: K. I. Press's Disquieting Collection Exquisite Monsters

Cover image of K. I. Press's Exquisite Monsters
 from the Turnstone Press website.
I am  pleased to announce I reviewed K.I. Press’s poetry collection Exquisite Monsters for Arc Poetry Magazine. My thanks go to reviews editor Katherine Leyton for our first rapport and to coordinating editor Chris Johnson and to Arc for doing what it does.

Press effectively uses monstrous imagery and pop culture flotsam and jetsam, among other means, to write about depression, suburban life and angst. 

The curious may check out the review here

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Note on Completing my Second Novel Today

Today, I finally finished my second novel, with the working title of Monstrous, which I started in October 2012. It started out as a short story, grew to over 50 pages, and after conferring with my co-pilot, and my publisher Steve Berman of Lethe Press, and with my mentor Jeffrey Round, I ran with the idea. I now have a 160,998-word, 695-page manuscript on my hands that I will set aside for six weeks before returning to edit the work for a second draft. Then I will send the manuscript to a select few trusted readers for their thoughts. My thanks to Stephen King for mentioning this part of his process.    
I must say, though, that this book was different than my first, Town & Train. This time, I set out to write about a character's story. And, in fully realizing the protagonist John Newman's story, I discovered the stories of other characters. Many of these, including Miguel McIntyre and Sara Jasmine appear in my other stories, but these stories (such as A Canadian Ghost in London) have not yet been published. Ghost was accepted by a small Canadian publisher for an anthology, but then the publisher sold the press to an American owner and the anthology (and story) never saw print.

Along the way, with Monstrous, I discovered what I was writing about as well. That sounds odd, yes, but it happens in the business. I thought the novel was only about a 17-year-old boy who becomes something else entirely. It is about that, but also about how the past affects you. You can live in the past, hold onto to it, be bitter or angry about it, or you can learn from the past, move forward, and never forget the lessons you've learned, whether good or bad. So I did a lot of playing around with time, with showing how the characters converge and arrive at the same retrofitted inn, The Auld Dubliner, where all the trouble begins in earnest.

This note about reconciling with one's past is ironic for me.

Without my friend Hugh to see this draft in its earliest form, as he passed away in September 1996 from a heart attack (unrelated to seeing my manuscript, of course), I missed him dearly this time around. For Train, he was a mentor, there for the genesis, but not for the fruition. I hope he was still here in some way. But this journey was harder for his absence and his support. Some people come into your life for whatever reason, and when they leave, they also leave a mark on you and you are changed.
I hope Hugh likes how hard I worked on Monstrous, through all my bouts of self-doubt and rewriting and tears. I hope he likes the book as much as I do. This is for you, Hugh- I proved I could write a novel, again.