Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Kind of Novels Do You Like, or Do You Write?s

1) I like novels I can knock off on a single Saturday, with time left over to cook meals or mow the lawn. Baldwin's Giovani's Room, 224 pages and still available in a Dell mass market edition in used bookstore for five dollars and under, is my speed. What a fine novel. Baldwin is a moralist and teacher, unpopular roles for the novelist in our time, but he pulls it off. I like short novels so I like to write short novels.

2) I hate family sagas that follow a family through many generations.  I like a novel that follows a main protagonist closely, either in first and third person. Sherman Alexie and Jim Harrison I dig.

3) I went through a period of about two years in the late 1960's where I only read women novelists. Now it looks like I read mostly male novelists. I did get 100 pages into the first Harry Potter novel, reading it to my daughter, but she got bored so we quit. Of course later the peer pressure became so great she read all of them. The last novel she read she told me about was the Japanese writer Murakami.

4) I make no theoretical justifications or arguments. I'm interested in educating myself about the human condition through the novel. I don't care if a novelist is famous or critically high ranked. I pick a novelist as you might pick a piece of pie at a restaurant.  I've read most of Bukowski's novels. Read around in but never read either Joyce or Henry Miller all the way thru, except for a short book Miller did on Greece. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers I found a repetitive bore and gave up. The same with his novel on Mexico--too full of Aztec propaganda.

5) So I like short novels, and I tend to like novels that are autobiographical. Hemingway said in a Paris Review interview something about how novelists are after the truth and how can you write it if you haven't lived it.  I know that's an unpopular view now. All art is autobiographical, one way or another, as Louis Armstrong said, even SF and fantasy.

6) Both my Drifter's Story and Fogg in High School are short novels. Both essentially follow a male protagonist. The first is in interview form.

7) Well, I'm interested in lively conversation, and would love to hear from those who disagree with me.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bitch Time

Bitch time.

Everybody's out to pigeonhole you--not that I have anything against pigeons. I lived in Chicago and they seemed everywhere. At the train station. In the eaves of your house. 

Actually, I never saw a pigeon living in a hole. It's a powerful phrase, pigeonhole, but seems unfair to pigeons. It's like the phrase, "Work like a dog."  Almost all the dogs I see are sleeping. Maybe in the old days Border Collie's worked hard.

People call me a poet. I've got nothing against poetry. I read it; I write it. 

But I write novels and memoirs too.  And short stories. 

It's like the old Scotch tape store on the old Saturday Night Live. People would come in there asking for greeting cards or paper, but no, they only sold Scotch tape.

I'm a writer. I write criticism sometimes, book reviews and movie reviews.

Quit trying to marginalize me into the dark and forgotten corner of the poor poet. But hey, you want to be a poet, a poet alone, that's fine with me. Do as thou wilt.

Thank you. You may bitch in response.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Novels and Commerce

Do novelists dream of making money, of their novel being sold to Hollywood and making more money? But for the love of words would they be in real estate?

Will we ever see published by a major firm, and reaching a significant audience, works in the spirit of Proust and Joyce and Virginia Woolf? 

Commerce keeps the novel today grounded, but does it make many a novelist unwilling to take major risks?

Monday, July 26, 2010

I have a novelist friend who will not move on to the next sentence until he has the sentence he's working on right. He's a much more successful novelist than I. Maybe I could learn something on my next novel by trying out the technique. My argument against his method is that sentence 2's design will be determined by sentence 1 and 3. Every sentence is surrounded on both sides, except the first and last sentence of each chapter. My friend however needs to do only a couple of revisions, where I find myself doing ten or twelve. Any thoughts about the making of sentences in a novel, or in prose? I think if I were to dawdle in the first draft over each sentence, I'd lose emotional flow, and perhaps forget what the next sentence, in rough draft, is supposed to be.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Using a New Form

I wrote my first novel, Drifter's Story, as a taped interview between two people. I got the idea from Samuel Becket's play, Krapp's Last Tape. Many people are fooled by the form and believe it is a 100% nonfiction. It's an autobiographical novel and about 70% nonfiction. It deals with the issue of what Robert Bly called "sperm stealing". The character meets an artist woman who takes photos of pregnant women. She is a mistress of a developer. She picked him up as a beach drifter, and has a child with him, but kicks him out because she wants to raise the child by herself. This book can be ordered for $7.95 including shipping from Slough Press, 3009 Normand, College Station, Tx. 77845